Energy department completes nuclear tech studies, but still light on detail

Energy department completes nuclear tech studies, but still light on detail

The Department of Energy announced yesterday, at a press conference held in Ballito, KwaZulu-Natal that although it has completed various technical studies (including in depth studies into the cost of nuclear power, funding and financing models, and the economic impact of localisation, among others) it is still negotiating on the price “for the procurement of nuclear power in South Africa.”

“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,” said the department.

The department said that the current world experience for quoted numbers for real export would indicate an overnight cost of around US$5bn per 1,200MW – equivalent to US$4,200 per kW per reactor in new comer states.

There has been speculation for the past year that Russian-owned Rosatom is the preferred bidder in the South African nuclear build out after the company released a statement last year announcing a R1tn order had been placed, this was followed hours later by a statement by the Department of Energy seemingly confirming this. Both statements were summarily withdrawn and a press conference was later held in which the government stated that although it would be building nuclear reactors in the country, it did not know how it would fund the project, where the reactors would be positioned or which technology would be used. It also categorically stated that it had not placed any orders for nuclear generation.

 Earthlife Africa JHB is less than convinced however, saying in a statement, “Although the government flatly denies it, the Intergovernmental Framework Agreements under discussion show a clear bias to the Russian, state-owned enterprise (Rosatom) as the already preferred bidder. There is much more detail in the Russian agreement than in the others and it suspiciously already includes details of the governments nuclear build plan, which the other agreements do not.”

In fact Earthlife even questioned the arrangements of yesterday’s briefing, “Despite the enormous importance of the decision to embark on South Africa's most expensive procurement to date, the press briefing was held at the exclusive Zimbali Resort off the North coast of KwaZulu- Natal. The isolated and exclusive venue made it difficult for journalists to attend, providing further evidence that the planned nuclear build is being arranged behind closed doors and is coming to be through fraudulent and unconstitutional promises.”

By Jenni McCann 

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