South Africa’s Eskom May Seek Nuclear-Plant Proposals This Week

JOHANNESBURG (Capital Markers in Africa) – Eskom SOC Holdings Ltd., South Africa’s state-owned power utility, may ask developers for proposals to build as much as 9,600 megawatts of nuclear-powered electricity plants this week.

Most of the documentation is complete and Eskom is waiting for the Department of Energy to formalize the company’s role as the procurer for the country’s nuclear energy program, spokesman Khulu Phasiwe said by phone Tuesday. The expected timing of the request for proposals, or RFPs, was earlier reported by the Cape Town-based Fin24 website.

“We are at a point where we are crossing the Ts and dotting the Is,” Phasiwe said. “Our intention is to issue this week; if not the RFP itself, then at least the RFI will be issued,” he said, referring to a request-for-information document.

Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Petterson supports Eskom’s move to proceed with the RFP, based on a scenario in which nuclear commissioning could be as early as 2026 because it will provide information on potential development costs, she wrote in an article published Nov. 30 in the Johannesburg-based Business Report newspaper. A week earlier, the Department of Energy issued an integrated resources plan with a base case in which the first additional nuclear power plant would only start up in 2037.

While President Jacob Zuma has championed the nuclear program, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has cautioned that the country may be unable to afford new reactors at a time when the economy is barely growing and the budget deficit needs to be curbed to fend off a credit-rating downgrade to junk.


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