South African power utility Eskom will this week invite bids to build six nuclear reactors in the government's push to increase nuclear capacity, its acting CEO said on Tuesday, despite the concerns of campaign groups and economists.
South Africa, which has the continent's only nuclear power station, has earmarked nuclear expansion as the centrepiece of a plan to increase power generation to ease the country's reliance on an ageing fleet of coal-fired plants and has asked Eskom to procure an additional 9,600 megawatts (MW) of capacity.
However, the move is being opposed by environmental and clean-energy groups, while economists have said that South Africa cannot afford to build new nuclear plants.
Eskom's Matshela Koko, speaking to reporters in Cape Town on the sidelines of a court case in which environmental and clean-energy campaigners are challenging the government's decision, said the nuclear regulator's approval of the plan on Dec. 8 meant the company could proceed with the tender.
Koko took the helm at Eskom at the start of December following the resignation of Brian Molefe, who resigned after being implicated in allegations of influence peddling in a report by an anti-graft watchdog. Molefe has denied any wrongdoing.