7 Mar (NucNet): State-owned utility Eskom’s target is to publish the request for proposals, or RFP, for new nuclear power reactors in South Africa by mid-2017, with evaluation of proposals by the end of 2017, the company’s chief nuclear officer David Nicholls said in an interview published on the Eskom website.
Eskom will then negotiate with the vendors, one at a time, to choose a preferred vendor, and then move into discussions about localisation, Mr Nicholls said.
Site work could conceivably begin in 2018, or “if we are lucky”, maybe even in 2017 for early, off-site work such as roads, Mr Nicholls said.
According to Eskom, nuclear is the only credible energy option for new baseload generation. For despatchable baseload – energy that can be guaranteed as and when it is needed – there are four options: coal, gas, hydro and nuclear, Mr Nicholls said.
South Africa has no gas and any gas it imports is going to be at a cost so the economic issues are problematic. There are no significant new hydro opportunities, which leaves coal and nuclear.
“Our view is that coal is going to be increasingly challenged by environmental requirements, while nuclear has an exceptionally good track record locally and internationally on both safety and economic grounds,” Mr Nicholls said.
In December 2016 Eskom issued an initial request for information (RFI) for new reactors. The companies that responded included “major nuclear vendors” from China (SNPTC), France (EDF), Russia (Rusatom Overseas) and South Korea (Kepco).
The government has said it wants to generate 9,600 MW of energy from as many as eight reactors that should begin operating from 2023 and be completed by 2029, with total price estimates ranging from $37bn (€34.8bn) to $100bn (€94bn).
South Africa’s Koeberg nuclear power station near Cape Town, operated by Eskom, has two reactors that generate almost 5% of the country’s electricity.