26 September 2006 – French nuclear power firm, Areva, and Westinghouse, a US based company have been identified as vendors for South Africa’s first new nuclear power station an official at Eskom said on Wednesday. This would be the first nuclear power station build in more than 20 years and construction has been considered for as early as 2010 at one of five possible sites along the South African coast.

According to Tony Stott, nuclear stakeholder management senior manager, the new power plant would ‘definitely’ cost more than the $11 billion that the coal-fired Medupi station is costing Eskom.

Speaking to Engineering News Online at a nuclear energy conference in Johannesburg, Stott confirmed “At the moment we are hoping to have construction start at the end of 2010.

“It’s optimistic, and it’s an ambitious programme, but certainly that is what we would like.”

Once details with the preferred bidder had been finalised (around 2008), Eskom plans to submit an environmental impact assessment in 2009 with approval of the assessment by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism hoped for within the same year.

The nuclear plant would have a maximum installed capacity of 3 300MW and construction of the first unit is estimated to take “at least six years”.

“We are going to have to start getting the EIA process and the commercial negotiations running parallel,” continued Stott.

“We are hoping to get the design done some time in 2008.”

Both Areva and Westinghouse are companies that are well known in the South African energy industry, with Areva having build the Koeberg nuclear power plant near Cape Town in 1984, and Westinghouse is involved with the South African Pebble Modular Reactor.

Goal orientation

In order to meet the target of 20 000MW of nuclear generation by 2025, Eskom would have to bring new units on line every one to two years Stott said.

This would put Eskom in line for generating 30% of its power from nuclear energy.

"South Africa is almost certainly going to have to pay carbon taxes", levied due to carbon emissions, which would make nuclear energy a financially more viable option than pollution intensive coal.

To date, 16% of the world’s power is generated by nuclear power, with some 31 new nuclear power stations being built internationally.