South Africa’s Eskom Applies for Nuclear Site Licenses in Eastern and Western Capes

South Africa’s National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) announced on March 15 that it has received two nuclear installation site license applications from Eskom Holdings, the only designated, cabinet-confirmed majority owner and operator of nuclear power plants in the country.

The applications were for Thyspunt in the Eastern Cape and Duynefontein in the Western Cape. The Thyspunt site would be located a few miles west of Cape St. Francis, while Duynefontein sits some 20 miles north of Cape Town.

Although the plant type and technology have not yet been selected, Eskom made clear its intention to construct and operate multiple nuclear reactors at each site.

“The NNRs licensing process includes a series of steps starting with a thorough review and safety assessment which involves a risk evaluation of potential hazards,” Mr. Phillips, senior manager standards, authorizations, reviews, and assessments for the NNR, said in a press release. “The NNR has a robust system for licensing sites for new nuclear installations and we believe that this system combined with the NNR’s extensive know-how in regulating a wide range of nuclear activities can assure stakeholders that we strive for the highest standards for nuclear safety and security,” Phillips added.

The NNR will initiate a review of the application to determine level of compliance with relevant regulations and whether it should be accepted for further technical assessments and public comment. Alternatively, should the NNR find noncompliances with the application, it will be rejected and deferred to the applicant.

Eskom generates approximately 95% of the electricity used in South Africa and approximately 45% of the electricity used in all of Africa. The company operates the 1,800-MW Koeberg power station, which is currently the only nuclear facility in Africa. That dual-unit plant is located near Melkbosstrand, just south of Duynefontein.

An Eskom spokesperson told POWER that once the nuclear vendor is chosen, a nuclear installation license application would be initiated. Several other regulatory permits are required for “mega build projects” like these, so it will likely be years before any physical work begins at either site.

Aaron Larson, associate editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)

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