South Africa govt to decide on nuclear procurement process

04 October 2014, Pretoria — The Department of Energy on Wednesday announced that government will decide on which procurement method will be used to acquire 9 600MW of nuclear power.

“… There will be a procurement process and the work that the department is doing is preparation towards that procurement process,” Deputy Director General (DDG) for Nuclear Energy at the Department of Energy, Zizamele Mbambo, said.

South Africa recently signed an Intergovernmental Agreement on Strategic Partnership and Cooperation in Nuclear Energy and Industry with Russia.

The agreement lays the foundation for the large-scale nuclear power plants (NPP) procurement and development programme of South Africa. This will be based on the construction of new nuclear power plants in SA with Russian VVER reactors, with total installed capacity of up to 9.6 GW (up to 8 NPP units).

At Wednesday’s briefing, the department said it is currently doing work in preparation towards the procurement process.

“We’ve highlighted that various models exist in the international space of the procurement process and South Africa would review all this and choose whichever procurement process it chooses to implement the nuclear programme. That decision will be made in the future,” said Mbambo.

Internationally, various procurement models are used and these are informed by the way in which countries want to roll out their nuclear programmes.

“This will apply to SA as well. Government will make a decision and say what is our national interest in rolling out this process,” said Mbambo, adding that the procurement process has not started.

South Africa has a number of nuclear agreements with several countries, including Russia and the US. SA is set to sign an agreement with France this month.

The department’s Acting Director General, Dr Wolsey Barnard, said that no information relevant to the public about South Africa’s nuclear build will be withheld.

South Africa’s nuclear energy policy was approved in 2008 and was further enhanced by the approval of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2010 – 2030, which stipulates that nuclear power will form part of the country’s energy mix to a level of 9 600MW.

“Some of the key elements of the policy revolve around the fact that as South Africa, we want to be self-sufficient. We want to be able to exploit nuclear technology for peaceful use purposes. Currently, people are focusing on the 9 600MW, which is mainly for the generation of electricity. But if you look into the process, the entire programme involves training, skills development and job creation [among others],” said Mbambo.

South Africa is looking at the entire nuclear energy value chain.

On how long will the procurement process take, Mbambo said that this will depend on the type of model that government approves.

He said the aim of the procurement process is to put the country on a path where there is energy security and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, among others.

To date, South Africa generates 5% of its electricity from nuclear power through the Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant in the Western Cape.

At the centre of the new nuclear build programme will be a concerted localisation plan that will ensure that existing South African industry participates to the maximum extent.

The department said government is committed to ensuring that the new nuclear build programme is undertaken in a fair, competitive and cost effective manner.

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