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Eskom issues RFI for South African nuclear project

South African electricity company Eskom has issued a 'no obligation' request for information (RFI) for the country's planned nuclear new build programme (NNBP). 23 Dec 2016

The South African government has designated Eskom or its subsidiaries to procure the nuclear generation plant, which will also involve front end fuel cycle facilities that will be procured by Eskom alongside the South Africa Nuclear Energy Corporation (NESCA).

"The programme aims to procure generation capacity to ensure energy security and to facilitate the achievement of the greenhouse gas emission targets for South Africa and long-term alternatives for Eskom’s current baseload fleet," Eskom said.

The RFI is "a stand-alone information gathering and market-testing exercise" and responses will not be used as the basis for awarding any contract or to preclude any party's participation in any future competitive tender or enquiry in respect of the NNBP, Eskom said.

The RFI follows a public participation process in South Africa, which is intended to lead to an update to the country's national electricity plan, known as the integrated resources plan (IRP), which identifies the investment and expansion needed for the electricity sector.

Johannesburg-based energy expert Rob Morson of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind said: "One of the key assumptions currently underpinning the process of updating the IRP is that South Africa will have to procure 50 GW of nuclear energy by the year 2050, with the first reactors coming online in 2026. The minister of energy and the national energy regulator of South Africa have stated that 9,600 MW of nuclear energy will initially be procured in the NNBP."

The RFI follows the South African Nuclear Policy of 2008 in stressing the need to transfer skills and intellectual property to South Africa, Morson said.

"There are three further points to note from the RFI," he said. "It makes it clear that, in implementing the NNBP, the South African government intends to follow a fleet approach to procurement. It also states that the power reactors to be used will be pressurised water reactors, and that the codes and standards to be used for the NNBP will be based on those of the vendor country, subject to modification in order to meet South African specific Eskom regulatory requirements."