South Africa to finalise nuclear plans by end-July

South Africa will finalise its bid requirements for six nuclear power stations by the end of July and hopes to have the first unit of 1,000 MW of atomic power online in eight years’ time, a senior energy official said early this week.
Africa’s most advanced economy is facing dire energy shortages and plans to introduce 9,600 MW of atomic energy by 2030 into its strained power grid to reduce its dependence on coal-fired power and curb the almost daily power cuts, Reuters reports.
‘There is sufficient time to construct these nuclear power plants and we have a schedule in place but at this stage we cannot put a price to it,’ Zizamele Mbambo, the deputy director general in the department of energy told reporters at a briefing just outside the port city of Durban.
He said the government was exploring different funding models for the nuclear build and would only release ‘specifics’ when the bids were awarded and ‘negotiate’ for the best price. Preferred bidders will be announced by end March 2016, when the financial year ends.
South Africa’s nuclear build could cost 400 billion rand to 1 trillion rand ($32bn to $81bn), the ministry says.
Figures in the statement read by Mmambo indicated it cost $4,200 per kilowatt to build a nuclear reactor in ‘new comer states,’ which experts’ calculations show could price South Africa’s 9,600 MW at over $40 billion.
But the chief executive of South Africa’s state owned nuclear energy company Phumzile Tshelane said the price would not be that high as building the second reactor will be cheaper as it will be paid for by the existing one.
Pretoria has signed nuclear agreements with France, Russia, China, South Korea and energy officials said they were ‘speaking to’ Japan, Canada and the United States about possible cooperation for its build process but had not made a decision.
‘We have said repeatedly that the bidding process has not been finalised and the process will be a fair and transparent one,’ Mbambo said, responding to questions that Moscow is seen a top contender.
Russia committed to two joint projects, to educate and encourage ‘public acceptance of nuclear power’ and will train specialists in South Africa’s nuclear industry.
An official recently said a panel advising the energy minister recommended Russia’s Rosatam VVER and Westinghouse’s AP1000 provide reactors for the nuclear plants. Westinghouse is owned by Japan’s Toshiba.

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