The South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) has welcomed the issuing of a request for information (RFI) by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) regarding the possible construction of new nuclear power plants (NPPs) in the country. This RFI was issued on June 14.
Necsa affirmed that the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) had “clearly” stipulated that the country would undertake initial activities for the acquisition of 2 500 MW of nuclear power. This would be to ensure energy security, but would be done at an affordable scale and pace.
(EGSA Ed note: Well, we can't afford nuclear now and possibly never will. We can't even afford the millions budgeted for the "initial activities". And the nuclear options in the IRP were forced in by our politicians and are in the distant future, if ever. So who stands to gain from nuclear contracts? Why is this option still being pursued? Rather get going on the immediate IRP imperatives and the REIPPPP Bid Window 4 and hopefully, 5 and 6, and …)
“The RFI allows the government to gain a deeper understanding of how much it will cost to deploy 2 500 MW of nuclear technology,” said Necsa board chairperson David Nicholls. “The various options for funding and ownership will indicate how this could meet the objective of being at a pace and scale the country can reasonably afford.”
Under the Nuclear Energy Act of 2008, a new NPP construction programme would have to contribute to the country’s economic growth. This would be through development of local skills, expertise and infrastructure.
“The issues raised in the previous IRP debates for nuclear relate to the realistic costing, funding and ownership model adopted and this RFI should assist in resolving some of the uncertainty,” he pointed out. “As this is only a request for information, with no financial or contractual impact, it is the best way to move the debate forward.”
“Necsa is ready to offer its technical support and expertise to DMRE and the country in the realisation of the nuclear power expansion programme,” assured Necsa acting Group CEO Ayanda Myoli. “There is also our division, Pelindaba Enterprises, for example, which has been the only ASME III [nuclear quality] accredited facility in Africa (before Egypt recently acquired the accreditation). It could play a critical role in localisation and industrialisation of an expanded nuclear programme through its capabilities to design, manufacture and supply nuclear grade components.”
In its statement, Necsa pointed out that South Africa had more than 50 years' experience in operating nuclear facilities, was globally renowned for its nuclear expertise and had a good safety record. The corporation was in a good position to support the government in ensuring that a new NPP programme would fulfil essential electricity supply security and economic growth objectives.