South Africa to Sign More Pacts Before Nuclear Partner Bids

South Africa said it plans to sign framework agreements with more countries before it decides on how to procure as many as 9,600 megawatts of nuclear energy.

Russia’s state-owned Rosatom Corp. and the Department of Energy announced a partnership on Sept. 22, saying they had reached an accord that laid the foundation for ordering as many as eight Russian VVER pressurized-water reactors. South Africa will sign a framework with France this month, and plans accords with China and Japan, Wolsey Barnard, acting director general at the department, told reporters today in Pretoria, the capital.

South Africa “will sign framework agreements with several countries with capability and compatibility of pressurized water reactors before making a decision on which country to use for the nuclear program,” the department said in a statement. The pact with Russia was the first, it said.

The National Treasury said in February 2013 that a 300 billion-rand ($27 billion) nuclear program was in the final stages of study. South Africa’s integrated resources plan envisions adding more nuclear energy to the grid to reduce reliance on coal and meet demand.

The type of technology used will determine the price of the build, while the country wants to be a part of all aspects of the program, said Zizamele Mbambo, the deputy director-general for nuclear in the department. “We want to be involved in the mining and the entire value chain.”

Next Step

Before the country, which currently gets 5 percent of its power from nuclear, decides on the technology to employ and the procurement procedure, the government must first update its integrated resources plan, Mbambo said.

Areva SA, Electricite de France SA, Toshiba Corp.’s Westinghouse Electric Corp., China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Corp. and Korea Electric Power Corp. have expressed interest in building the plants. South Africa also has a draft nuclear cooperation pact with China.

Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said in the announcement last week that the agreement with Russia would allow the country to implement its plan to create more nuclear capacity by 2030.

Rosatom said Sept. 22 that the nuclear program would create thousands of jobs and result in local orders worth at least $10 billion.

“Vendors will make their various offers,” Mbambo said. “We’re looking closely into localization.”

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