New Build

South Africa / Deputy Minister Confirms Plans For 2,500 MW Of New Nuclear

By David Dalton
23 September 2021

‘Request for proposal’ could be issued early next year
Deputy Minister Confirms Plans For 2,500 MW Of New Nuclear
The two-unit Koeberg is the only commercial nuclear power station in South Africa. Courtesy Eskom.
South Africa is forging ahead with plans for 2,500 MW of new nuclear power capacity in a bid to boost energy security and wants to end the procurement process by 2024, the deputy energy minister said.

“We plan to issue the request for proposal for a 2,500 MW nuclear programme at end of March 2022 and complete the procurement in 2024 to support the economic reconstruction and recovery plan and ensure security of energy supply,” Nobhule Pamela said in an address to the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to a copy of her speech.

Last month, South Africa’s energy regulator backed a long-term government plan to build new nuclear power units, a move that could help see the construction of new nuclear reactors as part of the government’s drive to end power shortages and decarbonise electricity generation.

Energy minister Gwede Mantashe wrote to regulator Nersa in August last year stating the government’s intention to procure 2,500 MW of new nuclear capacity to come online after 2030.

In 2018, plans to expand nuclear capacity by building up to 9,600 MW of new plants were put on hold with nuclear excluded from an integrated resource plan because the government saw electricity generation from other sources as cheaper and because there was a lower demand for electricity than forecast in an earlier plan in 2010.

In October 2019, South Africa published a final energy plan that called for the construction of two 500-MW units, while in May 2020, the government unveiled plans for 2,500 MW of new build instead.

In April 2016, state utility and nuclear operator Eskom filed two separate nuclear site licence applications with regulator NNR, one for Thyspunt in the Eastern Cape and another for Duynefontein to the north of the country’s only commercial nuclear station at Koeberg, near Cape Town. The company has said the Thyspunt site could eventually hold up to 10,000 MW of capacity.

Koeberg has two pressurised water reactor units that have been in commercial operation since 1984 and 1985. In 2020 their output accounted for 5.9% of the country’s electricity production, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Reuters reported that coal produces more than 80% of South Africa’s power, making it the continent’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter. Coal-fired capacity was 37,000 MW last year, whereas utility-scale solar and wind stood at more than 4,000 MW. Koeberg has two pressurised water reactor units with a gross capacity of 970 MW each.

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