Uncategorized 15.7.2015 09:00 am

‘No Russia, SA nuke deal struck yet’

Department of Energy Acting Director General Dr Wolsey Barnard addresses members of the media in Pretoria, in partnership with South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA) during a status update on the new nuclear build programme. (Photo: GCIS)

Department of Energy Acting Director General Dr Wolsey Barnard addresses members of the media in Pretoria, in partnership with South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA) during a status update on the new nuclear build programme. (Photo: GCIS)

The energy department has insisted that there was no deal struck between South Africa and Russia to build nuclear energy plants, meant to boost electricity supply.

Zizamele Mbambo, deputy director for nuclear energy in the department, said South Africa was yet to engage in bidding processes for the country’s nuclear energy plants – estimated to cost billions of rands.

Mbambo, in addressing media in Durban, on the country’s nuclear energy programme in Durban, said South Africa would take into account several factors before appointing a supplier.

“Approved procurement processes that will include competitive bidding that is transparent and cost effective and in line with legislation, will be followed,” he said.

Speculation that South Africa had already resolved to bring in Russia for its programme, was strengthened by the recent signing of a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) between the department and Russia’s nuclear utility Rosatom.

However, Mbambo said the MOU was on issues around the training of nuclear personnel in the country.

The building of South Africa’s nuclear reactors – expected to generate close to 10 000MW, is set to be completed by 2029. While the cost of the entire programme is yet to be established, it is estimated that the country could end up spending above R1 trillion for its nuclear reactors.

“It is important to note that government is still to negotiate the price tag in the procurement process which is why exact figures for the study cannot be made available to the public at this stage,” he said.

“However, the current world experience for quoted numbers for real export would indicate an overnight cost of around five billion US dollars per 1 200 MW. Among the 70 plus reactors in the world, there are a number of projects where because of the local market and political conditions, the projects are higher than these figures.”

Ageing infrastructure, growing energy demand and poor maintenance, have seen the country’s energy utility, Eskom, battling to keep up with energy demand – resulting in the implementation of the utility’s load shedding programme.

“The nuclear new build programme will enable the country to create jobs, develop skills, create industries and catapult the country into a knowledge economy,” Mbambo said.

The DA however, slammed the Mbambo’s briefing, calling it “tired rhetoric”.

The party previously brought the trillion rand deal into question over arguments that South Africa’s adamant stance, that nuclear was in line with the Integrated Resource Plan of 2010.

The National Development Plan however refers to the 2013 IRP which outlines that nuclear be used as a last resort.

DA MP Gordon Mackay said yesterday that it was the perfect opportunity to dispel widespread criticism.

The deal was still tainted with secrecy.

“The procurement process for this nuclear project remains highly secretive, procedurally backward, and not beyond reproach,” he said.

 

 

 

 

 

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