• Nuclear power to be bought by Eskom or appointed `successor'
  • Electricity to be purchased from special-purpose vehicle

South Africa approved a plan for the country to procure as much as 9,600 megawatts of nuclear-generated power.

“Electricity produced from the new generation capacity shall be procured through tendering procedures which are fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective,” the Minister of Energy and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa said in a Government Gazette statement, dated Dec. 21. The statement is signed by the former Energy Minister Ben Martins with a date stamp of November 2013.

President Jacob Zuma first announced plans in February 2014 to add 9,600 megawatts of nuclear power to the national grid to address energy shortages in Africa’s most-industrialized economy. While the government has declined to reveal the expected cost because the contracts are still being negotiated, estimates range from $37 billion to $100 billion. The Cabinet approved the start of the nuclear-energy procurement program at its Dec. 9 meeting.

The government believes South Africa needs more atomic power to diversify its energy mix and meet its commitment to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said in September.

If approved, the first reactor is targeted to come online in 2023. Areva SA, EDF SA, Toshiba Corp.’s Westinghouse Electric Corp., China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Corp., Rosatom Corp. and Korea Electric Power Corp. are interested in building the new nuclear power plants. The nation currently operates one facility near Cape Town and relies on coal for more than 90 percent of its electricity.

The atomic power may only be sold to Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., which is the country’s state-owned producer, or “any successor entity to be designated by the minister of energy as buyer, and the electricity must be purchased from the special-purpose vehicle set up for the purpose of developing the nuclear program,” according to the statement.

Thabo Mothibi, a spokesman for the energy minister, referred questions to Zizamele Mbambo, the department’s deputy director-general of nuclear energy, who didn’t immediately answer calls seeking comment.

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