Cape Town – French power utility EDF announced on Wednesday that it intends to submit a response to Eskom’s request for information (RFI) for the 9.6 GW nuclear new build procurement programme.
The announcement follows a statement by Russian nuclear firm Rosatom on Tuesday, which also said it intended to submit a response.
READ: Rosatom denies nuke bid, Eskom says reports are nonsensical
Eskom gave bidders until next week Tuesday (January 31) to confirm whether they will submit an RFI response. After that, the closing date for responses to RFIs is April 28 2017.
Eskom started the procurement process in December when it launched the RFI process, and two requests for proposals (RFPs) are due to be released this year. However, Eskom requires Treasury sign-off before this can be released, as it relates to the financial aspects of the bid.
“EDF, supported by the French authorities, has formally declared its intention to submit a response to that RFI,” the power utility said in a statement.
“EDF and the French nuclear industry welcome the RFI as an opportunity to engage in a new phase of cooperation with Eskom and Necsa on developing the South African Nuclear New Build Programme.”
SA could bring good times for EDF after Europe/UK pains
EDF and French nuclear manufacturer Areva have been battling financially due to nuclear projects in Flamanville in France and Hinkley Point in the UK being over budget and failing to meet initial timelines, which were blamed on technical difficulties.
France pledged to inject €4bn into both Areva and EDF in 2016 and EDF pledged to cut millions more in costs and sell off assets in a bid to reduce its huge pile of debt.
In 2017, investigators said they were widening probes into potentially faulty nuclear reactor components made at a factory operated by Areva, the Financial Times reported on January 4 2017.
“Separately, the (French nuclear regulator) ASN is expected to issue a report this year about issues with components made by Areva for a new nuclear power plant at Flamanville in France. The report’s findings could have an impact on the proposed Hinkley Point C nuclear plant in the UK, which is due to use the same technology as Flamanville,” the UK paper reported.
Last week, EDF ordered the shutdown of its oldest nuclear power plant Fessenheim, which is on the French border with Germany, after political pressure from President François Hollande.
EDF stocks were trading 0.53% higher at €9.65 on Wednesday, which is a year-on-year decline of 17.18%. It is also a huge decrease from a high of €28.78 over two years ago.
EDF and Rosatom ready for nuclear bid
South African media were quick to report that Rosatom had submitted its actual bid on Tuesday, after news agency Reuters stated: "Russian state nuclear agency Rosatom has submitted a bid for a nuclear power project in South Africa, TASS news agency cited the company's general director Alexei Likhachev as saying on Tuesday."
However, Rosatom told Fin24 on Tuesday night that Likhachev was only referring to Rosatom’s decision to respond.
A Rosatom spokesperson told Fin24 that it “acknowledged the RFI from South Africa and we intend to reply. This is what was being referred to”.
Eskom and EDF have strong relationship with Koebeg
In October 2014, South Africa and France signed an inter-governmental agreement on civil nuclear cooperation, which establishes the framework of a long-term partnership on the South African nuclear programme.
“The French government has always been supportive of close cooperation, including know-how transfer and skills development, between the French nuclear industry and its South African counterparts," EDF said in a statement on Wednesday.
“Eskom and EDF have continuously strengthened a longstanding fruitful and respectful partnership in nuclear operation,” it said.
“As a result, the Koeberg nuclear power plant is not only based on the French technology, but it has also been empowered to directly leverage the standardising effect from the unmatched volume of accumulated experience by its partner EDF out of operations in France and all over the world. Reciprocally, EDF is also happy to consolidate the operating experience in Koeberg shared by Eskom to its own.”
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