OUTA opposes the proposal to build a new nuclear power station

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy wants to build a new nuclear power station.

This isn't in South Africa's energy plan (the Integrated Resource Plan 2019, published in October 2019), but the department says it wants to start procurement now so that a new nuclear power station will come online after 2030.

OUTA opposes this.

In June 2020, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe issued a non-binding Request for Information on building 2 500 MW of new nuclear power.

In November 2020, NERSA announced it had received a request from the Minister to concur with a determination (authorisation) in terms of section 34 of the Electricity Regulation Act that South Africa needs another 2500MW of new nuclear power. Section 34 gives the minister authority to determine from which types of energy sources electricity may be produced, the quantity thereof and authority to determine who may sell and purchase such electricity. The Minister's determination is here. NERSA called for public comment (the NERSA consultation paper is  here) and, in February 2021, OUTA made a submission to NERSA opposing this determination. OUTA's submission is here.

However, in August 2021 NERSA concurred with the Minister’s determination. NERSA finally issued its reasons for this decision in November 2021, see here.

The minister's determination proposes to "commence the process to procure the new nuclear energy generation capacity of 2 500 MW".

The generator will be Eskom or any other organ of state or in partnership with a business.

The buyer of the electricity will be Eskom, or any entity designated as the buyer of electricity after Eskom unbundles.

The procurer (the buyer) of the new nuclear power station will be the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, or another organ of state, or in partnership with a business.

The procurer will determine the procurement process. 

Procurement on the 2 500 MW new build

In May 2021, the Minister told Parliament in a written reply that if NERSA concurs with the determination, the department intends to complete the procurement of 2500MW of nuclear new build by 2024. This reply is here.

In February 2022, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy issued a tender (tender DMRE/017/2021/22) for a service provider to develop a procurement framework for the 2 500 MW nuclear new build programme. The terms of reference for the tender are here.

The Thyspunt site

During 2021, Eskom revived plans to use Thyspunt near St Francis Bay in the Kouga municipality in the Eastern Cape as the site for a new nuclear power station. Eskom refers to this as an early site permit, independent of a specific nuclear power plant design. The application is to evaluate the suitability of the Thyspunt site for a new nuclear installation, not an application to build. The application does not include the specifics of any plant design.

Eskom applied to the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) for the site licence in 2016, in an application signed by then CEO Brian Molefe who has since been linked to state capture (the application is here) for a nuclear site installation licence for an unspecified new nuclear plant, but no decision was made; OUTA opposed this application at the time. The application now appears to have been revived, presumably because there is a renewed determination in government to pursue a new nuclear power build.

The NNR called for public comment on Eskom's application and held public hearings.

On 31 July 2021, OUTA made a formal submission to the NNR objecting to the granting of the licence. More on OUTA's objection is here.

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