Energy Minister Dipuo Peters stressed on Monday that the South African government would not stipulate from where the nuclear energy technology that could be used in a 9 600 MW fleet of nuclear reactors would be sourced.
Speaking in Kimberley, she said government would, in line with Section 34 of the Electricity Regulation Act, select the vendor to build the power stations. But the developer would determine where to source that technology, as well as the broader engineering, procurement and construction of the plants.
Some concerns had been raised about a possible conflict of interest after French utility EDF told Reuters that it planned to bid to build nuclear reactors in South Africa, possibly in partnership with a Chinese company.
EDF CEO Henri Proglio said it was in a position to either offer a fully French technology, such as its European Pressurised Reactor, or a Franco-Chinese technology in partnership with Areva and China Guangdong Nuclear Power Corporation (CGNPC). It was also indicated that a tie-up with CGNPC might find favour with the South African authorities.
It is also understood the South African programme had also attracted the interest of companies and consortia from the US and Japan, Korea and Russia.
Peters again said that pronouncements regarding the nuclear build would be made later in the year.
The 2012 Budget Review also lists what it described as a R300-billion nuclear build programme among some 43 major infrastructure projects, with an estimated combined investment value of R3.2-trillion.
The document said the programme was being designed to deliver 9 600 MW of nuclear capacity by 2029 and was in the “final stages of consideration before financial proposals can be determined”.
However, the programme, which is likely to involve Eskom, was likely to face robust opposition, particularly from environmental groups, as well as possibly from coal mining unions.