SA plans nuclear power proposal requests this month

Johannesburg - South Africa plans to issue a request for proposals to build at much as 9 600 megawatts of nuclear power- generation capacity by the end of the month, said Department of Energy Director General Thabane Zulu.

"The project-cycle pipeline that we have put in place is to do it at the end of the March," he told reporters in Cape Town Wednesday.

“However, that will also be determined by the current engagements between the Department of Energy, Treasury and the office of the IPP,” he said, referring to the unit that manages the independent power-producer programme.

President Jacob Zuma first announced plans in February 2014 to add 9 600 MW of nuclear power to the national grid to address energy shortages in Africa’s most-industrialised economy. While the government has declined to reveal the expected cost because the contracts are still being negotiated, estimates range from $37bn to $100bn. The cabinet approved the start of the nuclear-energy procurement programme at its December 9 meeting.

The RFPs will test the markets, determine the state of readiness of the country’s nuclear institutions and develop a funding model that will still have to win cabinet approval, Zulu said. Depending on the responses, the government will then decide whether or not to issue a tender for the building programme, Zulu said.

“The markets will determine what will be the best, cost- effective method,” he said. The state can then look at the results and “be better positioned to decide on the course," he said.

South Africa has signed nuclear inter-governmental framework agreements with countries including the US, China, Russia, Japan, South Korea and France.

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