Department of Energy to update SA on nuclear build programme

Pretoria - The Department of Energy will today host a status briefing on South Africa’s nuclear build programme.

The media briefing, which will be held in Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal, will be addressed by senior government officials as well as senior State Owned Entities (SoE) officials involved in the preparations for the nuclear new build programme.

The briefing comes following the submission of the Inter-Government Framework Agreements on nuclear cooperation to Parliament.

Briefing the Portfolio Committee on Energy at the Old Assembly, in Cape Town, last month, Deputy Director General of Nuclear at the department, Zimamele Mbambo, said the department is ready to start with the process of procuring services to the preferred international vendor for the country’s anticipated Nuclear Build Programme.

In the department’s Budget Vote Speech, in May, Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said the department will commence with the nuclear procurement process in the second quarter of this financial year.

The department 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 the 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 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.