Energy department outlines nuclear plans

 ·3 Jun 2015

The Department of Energy says it is ready to start with the process of procuring services to the preferred international vendor for South Africa’s much anticipated Nuclear Build Programme.

Zimamele Mbambo, the deputy director general of nuclear at the department said government expected to have finalised the procurement process by the end of the year.

He was briefing the Portfolio Committee on Energy at the Old Assembly in Cape Town on Tuesday.

“Our Minister [Tina Joemat-Pettersson] has announced in her budget vote speech that South Africa now is ready to commence the actual procurement process in the second quarter of 2015 and we expect that this actual procurement process will be finalised by the end of this year,” he said.

Mbambo said the commencement of the procurement process was a milestone for a programme that has been in the pipeline since government first adopted a National Energy White Paper in 1998.

In 2006, Eskom commenced with the process of procuring 40 Gigawatts of nuclear power before the process was later put on ice after technical loopholes came to light.

In 2012, the National Development Plan, the country’s policy framework to improve the country’s growth and create jobs by 2030, stated that South Africa should pursue the procurement of 9 Gigawatts of nuclear energy by 2023.

The announcement comes as government is in the middle of tackling electricity constraint challenges that have been cited as a constraint to economic growth.

As a result, President Jacob Zuma announced in his State of the Nation Address last year that addressing energy constraints was a priority for government. He said government would pursue the production of an “energy mix”, which would also include, amongst others, gas and nuclear energy.

Last year, the Department of Energy announced that several intergovernmental agreements had been signed with prospective vendor countries, including Russia, USA, France, China and South Korea.

Mbambo said it was important to understand that the intergovernmental agreements did not mean that concrete deals have been signed.

This only meant that bilateral agreements were reached based in the interest showed by prospective bidders.

“Having signed the inter-governmental agreements, the South African government invited the prospective nuclear vendor countries to come and demonstrate to a delegation of South African nuclear professionals coming from various government departments, state-owned entities as well as universities.

“We have concluded the pre-procurement phase by concluding demonstrations by all prospective countries who have expressed interest to participate in our nuclear build programme to ensure that the process is transparent, is open and is fair and allows all the governments to submit their proposals,” he said.

Mbambo said, meanwhile, that the Nuclear Build Programme is envisaged to create approximately 30 000 to 180 000 direct and indirect jobs per annum during the 10 year construction phase.

He said it was expected to create between 12 000 and 30 000 direct and indirect jobs during the operational period of 50 years.

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