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SA to finalise nuclear procurement ‘roadmap’ by November

South Africa should finalise its ‘nuclear procurement roadmap’ by November, Department of Energy (DoE) director-general Nelisiwe Magubane reports, adding that a study on the likely costs of such a programme should be completed in September.

Speaking exclusively to Engineering News Online during a broad-ranging interview, Magubane indicated that creating certainty on the approach to be adopted remained a priority for the DoE and for government, which is coordinating its decision-making through the National Nuclear Energy Executive Coordination Committee (NNEECC), chaired by Deputy PresidentKgalema Motlanthe.

However, the National Development Plan also called for greater clarity on the costs and on South Africa’s ability to afford the proposed deployment of 9 600 MW of new nuclear capacity, as outlined in the current version of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP2010). For this reason, consultants have been appointed to conduct a cost analysis, taking account of build programmes under way in the rest of the world, as well as South Africa’s recent experiences in building the mega-scale coal-fired projects, Medupi and Kusile. The study would also assess the cost implications of government’s decision to proceed on the basis of developing a nuclear industry locally, rather than simply procuring individual power stations.

Current cost estimates, Magubane notes, range from around $3 500/kW installed to $7 000/kW, with the current European build programmes at the higher end of the scale and some Asian projects at the lower end. “The idea behind the study is to look at South Africa’s unique situation and to get an assessment of the likely costs in our context.”

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