South Africa takes a step closer to new nuclear-power programme

South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy took another step in starting a new nuclear-power programme.

The department issued a request for information (RFI) for goods and services involved in such a program. Submissions close on 15 September, according to the document.

South Africa said last month that it plans to expand nuclear capacity within the next five years. The country currently has a single nuclear plant. A drive for additional facilities largely faded after the ruling party forced Jacob Zuma to step down as president in 2018.

Additional plants were widely considered unaffordable, and the nation’s economic slump has further dented the government’s ability to pay for them.

“Given the long lead-time of building additional new nuclear capacity, upfront planning is necessary for security of energy supply to society into the future,” the department said in a statement on Sunday (14 June).

“The RFI is intended to commence the Departmental preparatory work to develop plans for a future nuclear energy build programme.”

The RFI indicates that the new build programme will be for an additional 2,500 MW of power, aligning with comments made by Energy minister Gwede Manatshe in May.

The department said that it will commence preparations for a nuclear build programme at a pace and scale that the country can afford because it is a no-regret option in the long term.

“This will enable the department to gain insight into the cost of the programme, possible ownership structures, cost recovery, the end user cost and sustainability of the programme,” the statement said.

With additional reporting from Bloomberg.

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South Africa takes a step closer to new nuclear-power programme