IN A step towards the long-awaited nuclear build programme, the South African government will use the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) integrated nuclear infrastructure review to assess the country’s readiness for a nuclear programme, the Department of Energy said on Wednesday.

This is another sign that government is going ahead with the mooted nuclear programme.

The integrated resource plan for electricity (IRP2010) makes provision for 9,600MW of new nuclear capacity by 2030. According to the IRP document, the first 1,600MW is due for commissioning in 2023.

The department said the IAEA would conduct the integrated nuclear infrastructure review mission in February. It said an IAEA team this week conducted a three-day pre-mission workshop with "relevant stakeholders".

Among others, the workshop defined the scope, work plan, and logistical arrangements for next year’s mission, the department said.

"South African nuclear stakeholders such as Necsa, Eskom, National Nuclear Regulator, and key government departments including Energy and Public Enterprise are part of the National Nuclear Energy Executive Co-ordination Committee (NNEECC) that has developed the self-evaluation report for the country. The NNEECC is led by the Deputy President and serves as the national decision making body regarding the nuclear programme," the department said.

It said the mission would, among others, look at safety, legislation, funding and financing, regulatory framework, radiation protection, electricity grid, human resource development, nuclear fuel cycle, procurement and radioactive waste.