South Africa's Eskom To Release Nuclear Plant RFP

            Matshela Koko

           Matshela Koko

South Africa's principal utility, Eskom, will release the 9.6 GW nuclear new build request for proposals (RFP) this week, according to an announcement by acting Eskom CEO Matshela Koko.

This follows a surprise revelation in court on Tuesday that a new nuclear determination is about to be published by the South Africa Department of Energy (DoE).  This was revealed by the DoE’s legal team in the Western Cape High Court on Tuesday.

READ: Surprise energy gazette could delay nuclear trial

The new determination would replace the 2013 determination, the notice that was only published in December 2015.  The determination officially changes the procuring agency of the 9.6 GW nuclear new build programme from the DoE to Eskom, a decision that Cabinet recently approved.

The determination, which the DoE legal team said was on its way to the government printers, was signed by Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson on December 5 and energy regulator Nersa on December 8.  When the determination is published, Eskom will be allowed to release the RFPs, Koko said.

The new determination could delay the court case being heard. The DoE legal team only received the determination this week and surprised both the judge and the legal team representation of environmentalist groups Safcei and Earthlife SA.

The groups are legally challenging government’s nuclear procurement process, focusing on an intergovernmental agreement signed with Russia in 2014.  They believe legal documents indicate that South Africa did sign a binding nuclear deal with Russia.  They said “the Russian agreement was entered into unlawfully, but makes (an) internationally binding commitment to buy a fleet of nuclear reactors from Russia”.

From the state law adviser’s explanatory memorandum that was prepared in November 2013 but only revealed recently to Safcei/ELA, “it is evident that the Russian agreement is to build reactors and an enrichment plant", the group said.  They said other subsequent agreements would “cover the details of how it is to be financed, not if it would go ahead.”  (Fin24, 12/13/2016)