Tag Archive | nuclear

Minister Joemat-Pettersson clams up on nuclear

Nuclear deals cannot be transparent

(published to clients 25 Sept)

In a meeting to explain intergovernmental agreements so far made by South Africa on the nuclear New tina-joemattBuild programme, Department of Energy DOE and DDG of Nuclear, Zizamele Mbambo, was completely overshadowed by the requests by Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, to preface the entire presentation with her own comments. She also was to speak first in answer to the many direct and pertinent questions from Opposition MPs directed at DOE.

In both cases it became less and less clear how much the nuclear programme was going to cost the country.  Also it became unclear what stage the Cabinet had reached as far as decision making was concerned, causing the chairperson of the committee, Fikile Majola (ANC), to remind the Minister that Parliament was supposed to provide oversight on financial commitments to other countries and certainly must be consulted before any such agreements were signed.

Russia dominating events

p van dalenIn an acrimonious exchange between P Van Dalen (DA) in summarising the areas of co-operation between South Africa and the Russian Federation, France, China, South Korea and the USA, Van Dalen remarked to the Minister that the whole picture looked like “Russia versus the Rest”. He wanted to know why the Russian co-operation areas were more informed and more extensive. He gave the example of the Russian agreement offered naming the actual location sites in South Africa for three possible structures.

Minister Joemat-Pettersson responded that the “areas of co-operation still had to be finalised” with Japan, to which country she had yet to visit, and Canada. The Russian Federation had done a particularly good job, she noted. Little information was given for Chinese involvement, it being assumed that President Jacob Zuma’s visit to that country would result in an update. Media reports state that Japan is teaming with Westinghouse.

 Just to keep some happy

 The Minister complained that Opposition members were making the Ministry’s life untenable by constantly demanding information on the extent, the cost and the timing of the New Build nuclear programme when too much information given out would compromise the bidding process. She denied there was any preferred bidder in the process.

She said DOE was supplying information to the meeting, “going as far as they could without compromising the whole exercise” because the Opposition parties had been very demanding. But it was still too early to make all documents available.

No sense

Gordon McKay demanded to know how it was then that Minister of Finance Nene had, in a mediagordon mackay DA briefing recently, stated that the “country could not afford a nuclear build programme” and how it was to be paid for?      If nobody knew the cost, what was Minister Nene talking about, he asked.   He said that Parliament was having “to rely on second hand information from the media” and this was wrong because it represented non-disclosure.

He also wanted to know who it was in South Africa that was “qualified enough to make a judgment call on both selection of the of the winning bidder and also be satisfied on the cost to the taxpayer.”

It was at this point that a surprising fact emerged.     Despite the Minister’s stated inability to answer on total project costs, it was admitted by her that an “independent consultant” had not only completed and supplied a project modelling report but a financial model as well.

All will be revealed

koebergNo further information could be supplied, the Minister said, either on who this was and estimated costs but she promised that the Committee would be briefed once the vendor bidding process was complete. A date at the end of 2015 was promised for further information to be supplied to Parliament on costs, plus the independent modelling reports “in due course”.

The Minister stated that again and again that “transparency was her target as far as Parliament was concerned” but said that she was constrained by the nature of the bidding at this stage. She however confirmed that a nuclear contribution “probably greater than originally expected” had to be part of the energy mix if South Africa was to meet its COP 15 environmental targets agreed to internationally.

DOE has a schedule

Z MbamboDDG of DOE, Nuclear, Zizamele Mbambo in his presentation, confirmed to Parliamentarians that the department was at the stage of the completion of pre-procurement processes and that commencement of procurement would start in the second quarter of 2016, with finalisation of partners by the end of the calendar year.

The intergovernmental agreements at present being concluded were displayed and covered the technology to be selected and construction: research reactor technology and construction; financing and commercial matters; manufacturing, industrialisation and localisation; human resources and skills development; public awareness programmes; safety liability and licensing; nuclear siting and permitting; the nature of both front and back ends of the fuel cycle itself and non-proliferation matters.

 Waste disposal issues

Opposition members wanted to know why waste disposal was not raised as a requirement and DDG Mbambo explained that South Africa had already enacted legislation to adequately cater for this issue and was deeply involved in waste disposal, quoting the Koeberg model.
However, it was notable that France and the USA contained “waste management areas of co-operation” in this regard, whereas the Russian contribution referred to enhancing support for the current legislative and regulatory environment, once again indicating a clearer knowledge of local conditions.

The DOE presentation went no further than just enumerating on a comparative basis each bidder’sbrics partners technological and commercial contributions in broad terms. However, it was notable that the Russian proposals went further than others on the degrees of localisation in the form of manufacture of components and skills training. It also included the “joint marketing and promotion of produced products to third country markets.” A considerable number of South Africans were already in Russian training exercises as they were in China.

Uranium in Karoo

The South Korean proposals were noticeably different in the area of contributing towards desalination of salt water projects and support in various aspects of nuclear research and the exploration and mining of uranium. At this stage the Chines contributions were limited for reasons stated but, again, noticeable in China’s paper was the expression “the development of new technology for civil nuclear energy for the (SA new) build programme and Republic of China and other third world countries.”
Other articles in this category or as background
Nuclear partner details awaited – ParlyReportSA
Nuclear and gas workshop meeting – ParlyReportSA
Nuclear goes ahead: maybe “strategic partner” – ParlyReportSA
National nuclear control centre now in place – ParlyReportSA

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Nuclear partner details awaited

DoE gives update on SA nuclear plan….

russian nuclearThe Department of Energy (DoE) says it is the sole procurer in any nuclear programme and that “vendor parades” had been conducted with eights countries, the results to be announced before the end of 2015. To give cost details, they said, would “undermine the bidding process”.

The situation regarding South Africa’s current intended nuclear energy programme was explained during a parliamentary meeting of the Portfolio Committee on Energy, DoE confirming that a stage had been reached where nuclear vendors had been approached and DoE staff were being trained in Russia and China.

Eskom not involved

Neither DoE, nor the Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, who was also present would givetina-joematt cost estimates nor speak to the subject of financing other than the fact the minister admitted that the idea of Eskom being involved in the building programme in the style of Medupi and Kusile was a non-starter.

At the same time Minister Joemat-Pettersson announced that a new Bill, the Energy Regulator Amendment Bill, was to be tabled that would give Eskom the right to appeal against tariffs set by the National Energy Regulator (NERSA). This followed upon the news that Eskom would be given powers to procure, which must lead to the assumption, said opposition MPs later, that Eskom will recoup costs of financing through electricity tariffs.

The Minister said the renewable IPP programme involving the private sector had included multinationals and had been “hailed as a success” and the deal that would be struck with nuclear vendors would be on best price in terms of the end price for the consumer. Any bidding would be conducted in the “style of the IPP process”, which included support of the process of black procurement and skills training.

Contribution to grid still “theoretical”

modern nuclear 2Deputy Director, Nuclear, DoE, Zizamele Mbambo, explained to opposition members that whilst government had in principle decided to include nuclear energy in the energy mix for the future, DoE itself was still only at the stage of establishing all costs involved to the point of actual connection of a theorised figure of nearly 10GW to the national grid. To disclose costs at this stage would undermine the bidding process, he said.

The main purpose of the costing exercise still remained the final cost the consumer, he said, in terms of the NDP Plan 2030, a phased decision-making approach over a period of assessment having been endorsed by the Cabinet in 2012. The whole exercise of deciding what the costs would be was therefore relevant to how much coal sourced power would contribute to the baseload of the energy mix by 2030.

Deal or no deal

Zizamele Mbambo confirmed that in 2013, DoE had been designated as the sole procurer of the nuclearsmall nuclear reactor build programme and “vendor parades” had been conducted with Russia, China, France, China, USA, South Korea, Japan and Canada. The strategic partner to conduct the next stage, the New Build Programme itself, would be announced before the end of 2015, Mbambo said, by which time costs would have been established and treasury consulted.

At this stage no deal had been struck, he confirmed.

As distinct from the actual vendors per se, and any deals, Mbambo said that international agreements had been struck with interested counties on the exchange of nuclear knowledge, training and procurement generally.

DoE trainees already in China

chinese sa flags“Fifty trainees already employed in South Africa’s nuclear industry had already gone to China for ‘phase one’ training with openings for a further 250 to follow”, he said, noting that the Russian Federation had offered five masters degrees in nuclear technology.

The New Build nuclear programme was at present based on providing eventually 10GW of power to the grid but DoE confirmed that the indirect effect on the economy from “low cost, reliable baseload electricity is logically positive but difficult to assess”.

Zizamele Mbambo showed a graph of the possible integration of energy from coal, nuclear, hydro (imported), gas and renewables over a period, stating that nuclear was clean, reliable and would ensure security of supply with “dispatchable power.”

Opposition Members complained that the process seemed likely to make the price of electricity unaffordable to the poor and have a major impact on the cost of doing business in South Africa.

Nuclear vs. coal

Mbambo was at pains to explain that in the long term, the cost of nuclear energy was considerably lessgrids than coal and this was the reason that, for future generations, South Africa had to embark on a course that not only lead to cleaner but cheaper energy.

As a final issue, DDG Mbambo touched upon the question of approval by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and explained that any relationship with this UN body was on the basis of a peer review.

This covered nineteen issues from nuclear safety management to radioactive waste disposal and was not an audit, he explained, South Africa already having been an experienced nation in nuclear matters from medical isotopes to nuclear weapons. It was pointed out to members that that IAEA merely carried out reviews and made input.

Up to speed or not

IAEAIt was during the response to the budget vote speech on the subject of the IAEA, that Opposition Shadow Energy Minister, Gordon Mackay said that the agency had found South Africa deficient in more than 40% of its assessment criteria.   In response, DDG Mbambo did not refer to the current state of the country’s nuclear readiness at any point but confirmed there was a great need for training and this was now the emphasis.

He said the relationship with the IAEA was in three phases covering purchasing, construction and operations and although it was thirty years since South Africa had a nuclear building programme at Koeberg, the current contribution to nuclear technology was recognised.    The programme now was to create a younger generation of nuclear experts, the main issue being to build technology capacity and train trainers in the state nuclear sector.

Reactor numbers

Mbambo concluded his presentation by stating that DoE was in discussion with treasury specifically on this issue of funding training, Minister Joemat-Pettersson adding that some six to eight reactors were planned  but a this was very early, the weight that “price” would carry in determining a strategic partner was not decided.

Other articles in this category or as background
Nuclear goes ahead: maybe “strategic partner” – ParlyReportSA
National nuclear control centre now in place – ParlyReportSA
Energy plan assumptions on nuclear build out in New Year – ParlyReport

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Nuclear and gas workshop meeting

Gas emerges as winner……

nuclear logoIn what appeared to be a listening platform for anti-nuclear lobbyists, an energy stakeholders meeting, organised by the portfolio committee on energy on nuclear energy with the subject of nuclear energy as a component of South Africa’s future energy mix, was billed as a debate as such.  However it turned out to be a platform for speakers and not a debate at all.

This was primarily because there were so many submissions and questions had to be cut down to one minute, most of the earlier time having been taken by the department of energy, NECSA and proponents of the nuclear build programme using the day for presentations, already seen in Parliament and by parliamentarians.

Nuclear platform not provided

Opposition members expressed their anger at their inability to listen to any serious opposition to the use or deployment of nuclear facilities but a number of interesting points did emerge that may give value to whether or not it was worth having had a meeting at all.

Much of what emerged was the seriousness of the costs of any nuclear programme; safety matters and job creation ability, particularly in the relationship between nuclear versus solar and wind and other clean energy projects.

Govt. seems fixed on nuclear

Whilst the chair, Sisa Njikelana, said the meeting was not about trying to change government plans on its nuclear ambitions which clearly included nuclear energy in its planning, or debate the extent to which whether or not nuclear will or will not be part of the energy mix, he nullified arguments put forward by stating that a revised integrated resources plan was to be available in the coming weeks.

Most presenters expressed surprise that government policy was so fixed on the matter.

What did emerge that detractors were quoting the high costs of Finnish nuclear re-actors but the subject of low-cost Chinese or Korean re-actors did not emerge, as stated by one commentator.

Plans for waste in hand

Furthermore, DEO negated all complainants on the issue of nuclear waste by saying that plans were in process to handle long term nuclear waste with a scientific solution by government and the main problem was a misinformed public at this stage.

DEO also responded that hydro power could be a lot more dangerous and threatening to a massive number of communities downstream than any nuclear re-actor and that nobody had died in the Fukushima accident, which was the result of an earthquake not nuclear mishandling.

From results tabled it appeared that wind power was more expensive on a consumer cost basis.

Shell says gas cost effective

A major input came from Shell SA who pointed out that whilst they were not against building nuclear plants but for cost of building one nuclear plant, three national gas pipelines could be built, enough to handle all South Africa’s gas field requirements and include also the cost of gas to fuel technology.

The result of the stakeholders meeting in fact resulted in a determination of parliamentarians to insist upon DEO that gas should be focussed upon to a far greater extent when determining South Africa’s future energy mix and needs.

Refer to articles in this category

http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/integrated-energy-plan-iep-around-corner/ http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/nuclear-goes-ahead-maybe-strategic-partner/ http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/national-nuclear-control-centre-now-in-place/

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Nuclear goes ahead: maybe “strategic partner”

Eskom in poll position…

nuclear logoClarification of South Africa’s intentions towards the inclusion of nuclear energy as an integral part of the national energy mix have now been made quite clear, South Africa’s nuclear team possibly working with a “strategic partner” but with Eskom in poll position.

Strong messages that this was the case have been emerging from parliamentary presentations by both the department of energy and public enterprises over the last few weeks but now the die is set.

Minister spells it out

It needed the confirmation of the minister of energy, Ms Dipuo Peters, to tie the knot as she did in a media briefing following her budget vote speech in Parliament. She confirmed that the nuclear build programme will add 9 600 megawatts to the national grid by 2023 and a form of consortium would be reached whereby Eskom would have the designation as owner and operator, the national nuclear energy executive (NNEECC) to ensure oversight and be responsible for key decisions.

The final investment decisions towards procurement of plant would now be made, she said, Neliswe Magubane responding to media questions that having Eskom on board might deter potential partners to the effect that this could not be the case. She could not see how suppliers were interested in operating factors, although NNEECC could well draw in a “strategic partner” to bring further expertise to the table.

Eskom looking a massive loans

With Eskom now facing capital expansion projects separately detailed by them in the recent NEMA-Air Quality emissions hearings and also as a result of a “New Build” nuclear development programme that involves it seems at least six nuclear plants, NERSA in a separate parliamentary meeting in recent days, admitted that it was difficult to see how eventually all of this could fail to translate down into yet further electricity price hikes.

Air quality a deciding factor

Both minister Gigaba of public enterprises and minister Peters of energy have both brought the added fact of reduced emissions of CO2 as a major factor in the decision making in what appears to be a co-ordinated approach. The main issue remaining is therefore the time delay in bringing the nuclear contribution online to the grid.

From questioning it became evident that Eskom may have to reconsider bringing forward one its coal fired plants as far as completion dates are concerned.
The following articles are archived on this subject:

http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/energy-resources-doing-it-better-and-quickly/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/energy-plan-assumptions-on-nuclear-build-out-in-new-year/

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Energy plan assumptions on nuclear build out in New Year

Stressing that the final integrated energy plan (IEP) from the department of energy (DOE) will be subject to public scrutiny and comment, energy minister Dipuo Peters, in a written reply to parliamentary questioning, confirmed that her department will shortly be producing the first set of energy modelling assumptions involving nuclear energy planning for the country and these could be out in the New Year.

DOE have told Parliament seperately, however, that the final draft of the whole IEP will not be in the cabinet’s hands before the middle of 2013, the department having now completed a full round of presentations to interested portfolio committees in Parliament on the background and preliminary work to be undertaken on the IEP.   The IEP is not to be confused with the integrated resources plan (IRP) which will specifically study the individual energy resources themselves.

There will be extensive consultation before any matter on the IEP is even tabled in cabinet for approval, the minister noted.    Demand forecasts have also been finalised for some time, she said, and last month “quality checks on the data had been carried out on the data supplied.”

The minister also indicated that the final full draft document with all test cases incorporated with a plan might not be in the hands of cabinet before mid-2013.  As such it will be in draft form to be published for stakeholder comment.

Clearly nuclear energy is deeply involved in the IEP since the cabinet, at its latest meeting in Pretoria, has now agreed to the implementation of the nuclear build programme in time its seems for the IEP report. Working models will look at various plans with and without various resources, one of the critical resources being the nuclear issue.

A strategy to involve stakeholders in regard to nuclear build is also being worked out, cabinet says.    Kgalema Motlanthe, who heads up the national nuclear energy executive coordination committee, held the first meeting of this body in August and communication has been ongoing.

Eskom has also been endorsed by the cabinet as the owner-operator in terms of the nuclear energy policy

Cabinet has now approved the second version of the draft national energy efficiency strategy, following the 1998 White Paper, published for public comment some time ago.

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Electricity, Energy, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Davies presses the button on nuclear development

Dr Rob Davies, minister of trade and industry, in a statement issued to the media following up on address given by him at the Nuclear Empowerment Conference in Johannesburg recently, stated that South Africa’s entry into the nuclear energy field was “expected to be one of the largest state-owned procurements in the country”.

Davies pointed to the fact that such a massive investment in new technologies could place the country ahead in manufacturing.    The step was “a major opportunity for the South African local supply and manufacturing industry to develop”.

The conference was dealing with South Africa’s energy mix particularly related to nuclear development.

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Energy, Fuel,oil,renewables, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments


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