Cape Town - The South African nuclear regulator said it has received two nuclear installation site license applications from Eskom to build new reactors along the east coast and the west coast.
South Africa, which operates the continent's only nuclear power station, wants to install an additional 9 600 MW of nuclear power by 2030 to overcome chronic electricity shortages that have dented economic growth.
Eskom operates the Koeberg nuclear plant on the west coast near Cape Town, and has been designated as an owner and operator by the government, which plans to issue a request for proposals for the new nuclear fleet by the end of March.
The sites applied for by Eskom are Thyspunt in the Eastern Cape province and Duynefontein in the Western Cape province, the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) said in a statement.
"Both applications mentioned the applicant's intention to construct and operate multiple nuclear installations (power reactors)," the regulator said.
The licensing process includes a thorough review and safety assessment, the regulator said, adding that compliance with regulations would also be determined.
The intention to build a fleet of six nuclear power stations has raised concerns of how South Africa, struggling with low growth and facing a ratings downgrade to "junk" status, will be able pay the costs estimated between R400bn and R1trn ($25bn to $63bn).
Besides the cost implications, environmentalists and activists are also arguing that South Africa, blessed with an abundance of sunshine and wind, should ramp up adoption of its green energy projects instead of building nuclear power plants.
Follow Fin24 on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest.
24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.