Nersa published a consultation document on its webpage inviting interested stakeholders to comment on the government’s plans by 5 February 2020. The call for comments will be followed by public hearings through online platforms with live streaming with the goal to reach as many stakeholders as possible.
Nersa said it was notified on 6 August 2020 by the South African government of its plans to begin a process to procure new nuclear energy generation capacity of 2 500 MW by 2030.
According to Nersa, the nuclear tendering process would be run by the Department of
Mineral Resources and Energy, “or any other organ of state”, and is expected to determine the “procurer” of the new-build in a “fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective” manner.
State-owned utility Eskom will be expected to generate nuclear power from the new capacities, perhaps in partnership with another organisation.
Nersa listed a series of questions for potential stakeholders, including ones on the “advantages brought about by small modular reactors”, the most “cost-effective” process to build nuclear plants, and options for Eskom to cooperate with other entities in power generation or its operational structure.
South Africa’s only nuclear station at Koeberg has two pressurised water reactor units that have been in commercial operation since 1984 and 1985. In 2019 their output accounted for 6.7% of the country’s electricity production, according to the International Atomic Energy agency.
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 (IRP) 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.