The government is making progress on its nuclear new build programme, and is in discussions with various prospective nuclear vendor countries to expand the programme.
It had held consultations with a number of nuclear vendor countries recently, namely the United States, Republic of Korea, Russia, France, Japan and China, the Department of Energy said on 23 March. They all make use of pressurised water reactor nuclear technology, similar to that used at the Koeberg nuclear power plant in the Western Cape. South Africa has been safely using this technology for the past 30 years.
“The National Development Plan enjoins us to do thorough investigations on various aspects of the nuclear power generation programme before a procurement decision is taken,” said the department. “Nuclear vendor parade workshops form part of the government technical investigation in preparation for a procurement decision.”
As part of the pre-procurement phase and preparation for the roll out of the nuclear new build programme, the government has entered into several negotiations with vendor countries and has signed inter-governmental framework agreements (IGFAs) with Russia, France and China. An IGFA is a requirement for countries to participate in nuclear vendor parade workshops.
The nuclear new build programme is part of a sustainable energy mix that South Africa is pursuing to ensure energy security. The government aims to add 9 600 megawatts of nuclear energy to the national electricity grid.
In its statement yesterday, the Department of Energy said that IGFAs with Canada and Japan were at an advanced stage of completion and were expected to be concluded soon. It had also signed similar agreements with the US and South Korea.
Parallel to this work and as part of the preparatory phase, the department has been conducting nuclear vendor parade workshops with all the vendor countries that are ready and have accepted the invitation to participate. The workshops, where vendor countries present their nuclear technology offerings, are set up for those nations to showcase and demonstrate their capabilities on how, if chosen, they plan to meet South Africa’s needs.
In essence, they help South Africa to make its procurement decisions.
The first workshop was held during the week of 20 October 2014 with the Russian Federation. The second was held with France, People’s Republic of China, Republic of Korea and United States from 16 to 25 November 2014.
“[The] government has scheduled the third and final workshop with Canada and Japan to take place during the last week of March 2015,” said the department.
As with the first two workshops, officials from various state departments will attend. They will include representatives from state-owned enterprises that are engaged in energy matters as well as academics involved in nuclear and engineering programmes.
“[The] government remains committed to ensuring energy security for the country through the roll out of the nuclear new build programme as an integral part of the energy mix. [It] remains committed to ensuring the provision of reliable and sustainable electricity supply, as part of mitigating the risk of carbon emissions,” the department said.
The nuclear new build programme would enable the country to create jobs, develop skills, create industries and catapult South Africa into a knowledge economy. In addition, the government was committed to a procurement process that was “in line with the country’s legislation and policies”.