The head of South Africa’s State-owned electricity group, Eskom, says the utility is not currently preparing any tender documentation for South Africa’s proposed nuclear build programme, but that it remains keen to play a central role in any possible roll-out.
Addressing the media during a presentation of Eskom’s 2012 financial results, CE Brian Dames said Eskom was still awaiting a decision from government on how it planned to proceed in the area of nuclear energy.
The Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for electricity proposed the addition of 9 600 MW of new nuclear capacity by 2030, with the first 1 600 MW meant to be added during 2023. However, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters had already warned of a year’s delay, owing to the work conducted on nuclear safety following the Fukushima nuclear crisis, in Japan.
“There is no decision that has come to Eskom [from government] to say that we should do something, or not do something,” Dames elaborated. “But we are not currently working on preparing a tender – that I can tell you.”
However, as the only nuclear operator on the African continent, “our aspiration is certainly to be the lead party developing any new nuclear plant in South Africa”.
The South African government was undertaking an ‘Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review’ as part of a self-assessment exercise to establish the readiness of the country to proceed with a plan to invest in new nuclear capacity.
Once completed, the International Atomic Energy Agency would be asked to conduct an external assessment.
A National Nuclear Energy Executive Coordination Committee had also been established under the leadership of Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and this committee was expected to play a central role in providing guidance on the country’s approach to nuclear energy, as well as Eskom’s role.
Dames recently called for urgent progress on the implementation of the base-load aspects of the IRP, indicating that such a project could take up to ten years to deploy.