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[cdn-nucl-l] Koeberg pebble bed reactor to cost R10bn
Posted in the Cape Times on September 11, 2003 and at:
R10 billion = $1.85 billion CAN for the 125 Mwe demo plant at Koeberg near
Lots of excellent info about the PBMR at:
Koeberg pebble bed reactor to cost R10bn
September 11 2003 at 03:49AM
By Melanie Gosling
After years of keeping the price of the proposed pebble bed nuclear power
plant under wraps, it was revealed on Wednesday that the new nuclear plant
planned for Koeberg will cost a massive R10-billion.
PBMR, the company which is building the demonstration-model of the new power
plant, has already spent R1,5-billion on the project and is looking for
Now the company's board has asked the government to make an "unconditional
commitment" to fund the next steps in the pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR)
project in order to reflect local confidence in the scheme and thereby
attract new investors.
Nic Terblanche, CEO of the company, said on Wednesday Eskom and the
Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), the South African shareholders in
the pebble bed project, were waiting to see whether outside investors would
be attracted to the project before giving it an unconditional go-ahead.
'How much has Eskom spent on wind energy?'
"This reflects a lack of confidence. Eskom and the IDC are government-owned
we've asked them to give us an unconditional go-ahead for the project so
that it will reflect to new investors that the current investors are
confident," Terblanche said. This was still under negotiation, he said.
Eskom has signed an agreement to buy 10 of the new PBMR power plants if the
demonstration model at Koeberg is a success and "if the price is right" said
Although the sites for these nuclear power plants are still to be
determined, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth and Richards Bay are likely places.
Eskom spokesperson Carin de Villiers said pn Wednesday Eskom had agreed to
buy 10 of the plants because they "looked good on paper".
"None of us thinks the price won't be right because all the studies so far
have panned out and we don't see any major hiccups," De Villiers said.
'We call on the government to halt this project'
She said the sites Eskom would select to build the plants would be
determined by regional electricity needs. "We don't rule out the Western
Cape because power demands are increasing and Koeberg can't supply the peaks
"There are also increased power needs in the Eastern Cape because of the
Coega development and at Richards Bay."
Shareholders in PBMR Ltd are Eskom with 30 percent, the IDC with 25 percent
and British Nuclear Fuels (BNFL) with 22,5 oercent.
The Cape Times asked Terblanche how reliable he considered BNFL's commitment
to the project, given that the organisation was bankrupt and being
"We're in close contact with BNFL and none of the discussions include a
possibility of them withdrawing from the project. I think the whole issue
has been overplayed," he said.
Steve Thomas, an energy policy expert from the University of Greenwich,
believes that Terblanche's confidence in BNFL is misplaced. BNFL has lost
R35-billion in the last two years.
"A large chunk of BNFL's activity has already been taken away from them and
the rest of the business is under review.
"There will be a new management and quite a bit of blood will be spilled,"
Liz McDaid of Earthlife Africa, which is vehemently opposed to the PBMR,
said on Wednesday the R10-billion cost of the demo plant should have been
made public during the environmental impact assessment.
"Why was it kept secret? Eskom is putting a massive amount of public money
into a dubious technology.
"How much has Eskom spent on wind energy?
"We call on the government to halt this project," McDaid said.
The PBMR still has to be licensed by the National Nuclear Regulator before
the project can be given the go-ahead.
This article was originally published on page 1 of The Cape Times on
September 11, 2003