Eskom Holdings has said that construction of its new nuclear units in South Africa could start in July 2012, with the first 4,000MW plant operational by July 2018.

Two other facilities with similar capacity are planned to be operational by 2020 and 2022.

The power giant previously cancelled its plans to construct a new facility at the end of 2008 due to financial constraints.

The South African Government and Eskom have set the new timelines as part of a revised plan for the environmental impact assessment, which Eskom submitted for public comment.

The government said that it would develop a local nuclear industry in partnership with a technology firm rather than adopt a commercial bidding process used by Eskom.

“All this is part of the government-led process. We have set indicative timelines, in line with the projected growth in electricity consumption. But they are not cast in stone,” said an Eskom spokesman.

South Africa depends on coal for around 90% of its energy supply and the government has identified nuclear as a way to diversify power supply and reduce its carbon footprint.

By staff writer.