South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy has taken another step towards building a new nuclear-power program.
On Sunday, the department had issued a request for information for 2500 megawatts of capacity, the ministry says in a statement. Submissions for the request will close on 15 September.
Given the long lead-time of building additional new nuclear capacity, upfront planning is necessary for security of energy supply to society. @DMRE_ZA has published the RFI intended to commence preparatory work to develop plans for a future nuclear energy build programme. pic.twitter.com/bln7ZRdbh5
— Gwede Mantashe (@GwedeMantashe1) June 14, 2020
“This will enable the department to gain insight into the cost of the program, possible ownership structures, cost recovery, the end-user cost and sustainability,” the ministry says.
According to Bloomberg, the country said last month that it plans to continue to expand its nuclear capacity within the next five years. The broader effort also includes extending the life of the existing Koeberg nuclear plant near Cape Town beyond 2024 and the replacement of the SAFARI-1 research reactor in Pelindaba near Johannesburg with a multi-purpose one.
Initial drives for additional nuclear facilities largely faded away soon after the current ruling party forced Jacob Zuma to step down as president in 2018. Additional plans were widely considered unfavourable in terms of affordability. The nation’s continued economic slump has only further affected the government’s ability to pay for nuclear energy infrastructure.
South Africa and modular nuclear power
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe told lawmakers in May that a contract may be awarded to “develop a modular nuclear station on a build, operate and transfer basis, and that means no there will be no immediate call for funding from the state.”
In March this year, Russian nuclear institution Rosatom presented a new type of small modular reactor (SMR) at the Africa Energy Indaba Forum in Cape Town.
Rosatom is currently the only company in the world to offer integrated clean energy solutions across the nuclear supply chain and beyond. With 70 years’ experience, the company claims to be the world leader in high-performance solutions for all kinds of nuclear power plants.