Eskom to invite nuclear bids despite concerns

Eskom will this week invite bids to build six nuclear reactors as part of the government’s push to increase nuclear capacity, its acting chief executive said yesterday – despite the concerns of campaign groups and economists.

South Africa has earmarked nuclear expansion as the centre piece of a plan to increase power generation to ease the country’s reliance on ageing coal-fired plants.

However, the move is being opposed by environmental and clean energy groups, while economists have said South Africa cannot afford to build new nuclear plants.

The announcement comes weeks after Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson published the “base case” of the integrated resource plan, which sets out the country’s energy mix.

In it the department admits South Africa will not need nuclear power on-stream until 2037.

The plan also paves the way for gas and renewable’s to provide the biggest chunk of new capacity by 2050.

Eskom acting chief executive Matshela Koko, speaking in Cape Town on the sidelines of a court case in which campaigners are challenging the government’s decision, said the nuclear regulator’s approval of the plan last week meant Eskom could proceed with the tender.

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