Regulator opens South African nuclear proposals for comment

24 November 2020

The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) is inviting public comment on the government's plans for the procurement of 2500 MW of new nuclear generation capacity. The regulator has published a 21-page consultation paper on which the public has until 5 February to comment. It will then hold public hearings through online platforms.

Mantashe addressing the AUC-IEA Ministerial Forum

This follows a "determination" by Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe to begin the process to procure the new capacity, as set out in the Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity 2019 to 2030 (IRP 2019) which was published in October 2019.

According to the determination, which was received by NERSA in August, the generator of the nuclear power produced from the new capacity will be Eskom Holdings (SOC) Limited, or another "organ of state", possibly in partnership with another party. The buyer of the electricity will be Eskom "or any entity determined through Eskom's unbundling process as the future buyer of electricity". The nuclear new build programme will be procured by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, or another organ of state, and the procurer will be responsible for determining the procurement process, which will be established through a "fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective" tendering procedure.

"NERSA has not yet formulated any opinions on the issues that are raised in this consultation paper, but is raising them so that stakeholders can give their opinions and input on these issues in order to assist NERSA to make a well-considered decision," the regulator said in the consultation document.

IRP 2019 - South Africa's official energy policy - states that preparations must commence for the nuclear new-build programme "as a no-regret option in the long term". It also says that the nuclear power programme must be implemented at an "affordable" pace and modular scale.

Addressing the second African Union Commission-International Energy Agency Ministerial Forum today, Mantashe said energy is the "flywheel" for growth and development as Africa recovers from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. In his introductory remarks to the event, which was titled Securing Africa's Energy Future in the Wake of Covid-19: Facilitating Faster Recovery through Increased Investment, Innovation & Partnership, Mantashe called for a balanced approach, with access to all energy technologies. This, he said, would be essential for Africa as a whole to reduce carbon emissions while securing a strong economic recovery.

The US International Development Finance Corporation - the USA's development bank - last month signed a Letter of Intent to help small modular reactor developer NuScale develop 2500 MWe of nuclear energy in South Africa. This followed the USA's lifting in July of its legacy prohibition on funding nuclear energy projects overseas.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News