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Eskom: Bidder to fund nuclear build programme until reactors come online

Eskom has been tasked with implementing and overseeing government's plan to gradually add 9,600 megawatts of electricity to the energy grid by 2030.

FILE: Eskom's Megawatt Park in Johannesburg. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Eskom's chief nuclear officer says a successful bidder will fund the country's nuclear build programme until the utility can start repaying the loan when the first reactors come online.

The utility has been tasked with implementing and overseeing government's plan to gradually add 9,600 megawatts of electricity to the energy grid by 2030.

It's understood the request for proposals could be rolled-out from June but this is subject to approvals by government departments.

David Nichols, Eskom’s chief nuclear officer, says $40 billion is seen as a reasonable cost frame for the complete build of a plant based on similar projects elsewhere.

“We would only fully contract for the first two to begin with. The contract would allow us to contract as we go forward and lock in the savings. You wouldn’t sign the deal for all nine or six at the same time.”

He says a successful bidder will be expected to provide a cost package.

“In other words, they will say to us that we will lend you money to build the plant. The repayment of that money starts when the machines start generating and the interest rates are highly competitive because they want to sell their reactors.”

Nichols says the first two reactors could be providing energy by 2026 if the project is approved.

(Edited by Shimoney Regter)

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