South Africa plans to issue a Request for Proposal for 2500 MWe of new nuclear capacity at the end of March 2022 and complete the procurement process in 2024, Deputy Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Nobuhle Pamela Nkabane told the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) 65th General Conference. The country is also finalising its ratification of the amended Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.
"As we embark on the Just Energy Transition in South Africa, we recognise that nuclear plays a pivotal role as one of the clean energy sources that are needed to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050," Nkabane told the conference, which is being held in Vienna.
"In June 2020, South Africa issued a Request for Information to test the market appetite for the 2500 MW of nuclear energy and received positive responses from 25 companies that showed an interest in this programme. The National Energy Regulator of South Africa has recently concurred with a ministerial … determination for the procurement of 2500 MW new generation capacity from nuclear energy. We plan to issue the Request for Proposal for 2500 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."
She thanked the IAEA for its continued support through peer-review Safety Aspects of Long-Term Operation missions at the Koeberg nuclear power plant, which is currently undergoing "technical and regulatory work" to extend its lifetime by 20 years.
A project to replace the SAFARI-1 research reactor - the Multipurpose Research Reactor Project - has progressed "significantly", with the completion of a pre-feasibility report, she said.
The National Radioactive Waste Disposal Institute - which is responsible for managing South Africa's radioactive waste - is to sign Practical Arrangements with the IAEA covering cooperation on borehole disposal of disused sealed radioactive sources, she added.
The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy in May 2020 announced the start of work on a roadmap for the procurement of 2500 MWe of new nuclear capacity which was to consider all options, including small modular reactors. The National Energy Regulator of South Africa in November invited public comment on the government's procurement plans and last month formally gave its support to the procurement of the 2500 MWe of new nuclear generation capacity.
The two pressurised water reactors at Koeberg, which are operated by state-owned utility Eskom, began commercial operations in the mid-1980s and together generate some 5% of South Africa's electricity.