Facing an energy crunch, South Africa needs six new nuclear power plants and is in the early stages of a long procurement process to add 9,600 megawatts of power by 2030, IndependentOnline reports.
The new nuclear plants will cost between 400 billion rand ($33.54 billion US) and 1 trillion rand ($63 billion US), Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson told Parliament.
“We expect to present the outcome of this procurement process to cabinet by year end,” Joemat-Pettersson said, according to IOL.
South Africa has signed nuclear power deals with the U.S., China, Russia, South Korea and France, IndependentOnline reports. When it announced a deal in September with Russia to build plants worth $10 billion, it surprised energy watchers.
The country also plans to re-establish its nuclear fuel cycle industry, which would include developing nuclear fuel production sites and uranium enrichment plants, MyBroadband reported.
The government approved a nuclear energy policy in 2008 that provides for expansion of the existing program to address socioeconomic needs and bolster the economy, Joemat-Pettersson said.
“Vendor parades have been completed with all nuclear vendor countries that have shown interest to participate in the nuclear new build program,” she said, according to MyBroadband.
Gordon Mackay, South Africa’s shadow deputy minister of energy, questioned the country’s readiness to expand its nuclear capacity. He said the International Atomic Energy Agency found South Africa’s nuclear preparedness deficient in more than 40 percent of its assessment criteria.
Citing reports from the World Association of Nuclear Operators, Mackay said Eskom’s financial problems negatively impacted long-term nuclear safety at South Africa’s existing nuclear power station at Koeberg. He also said the reports found management staff at Koeberg to be less than optimal.
To prepare for the rollout the nuclear power plant construction, South Africa is sending students for training in various countries. Fifty trainees from government nuclear industry entities were sent to China in April, 2015 for the first phase of nuclear training, and another 250 trainees are expected to be sent to China, Joemat-Pettersson said, according to MyBroadband.
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