Bidding for power plants in South Africa is expected to start in coming months, France’s special envoy for nuclear matters said Wednesday in Johannesburg.
Pascal Colombani said the process which was expected at the end of March or early April had been delayed by numerous events, including administration changes at the country’s treasury.
“It is now expected between now and spring,” he said.
Spring in South Africa starts in September.
France, China, Russia, South Korea and the United States are bidding to construct up to eight new reactors at an estimated cost of some $50 billion to boost the country’s electricity supply.
Colombani said his week-long visit to South Africa was to “maintain contacts at the highest level with the authorities”.
He said he was scheduled to meet with representatives of the national electricity generator Eskom and the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa).
He stated that France had several advantages over its competitors, especially in terms of nuclear safety, skills development and forming partnerships with South African companies to build the reactors.
The reactors will pump an extra 9,600 MW of nuclear power into the country’s strained national grid.
South Africa which relies on coal-generated electricity is facing an unstable energy supply, which led to blackouts that hit the struggling economy.
The country currently has the sole nuclear power plant on the continent, situated at Koeberg, north of Cape Town. The twin reactors there contribute nearly 2,000 MW, a little over four percent of the national power output.
Colombani said the commissioning of the new reactors should happen “in the middle of the next decade.”