No ‘big bang’ nuclear builds on cards

A view of South Africa's Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, 30km north of Cape Town
A view of South Africa's Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, 30km north of Cape Town
Image: Gallo Images

SA will not adopt a “big bang” approach to building new nuclear power capacity but instead add capacity in an affordable way, mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe said on Tuesday.

Former president Jacob Zuma championed a massive nuclear expansion project with Russia, but President Cyril Ramaphosa put those plans on hold after becoming leader of the ANC in late 2017.

Economists say a large-scale, new nuclear build is something SA can ill afford.

“It comes back to a resolution we took as a government: not going big bang into nuclear, but going at a pace and price that the country can afford,” Mantashe said.

“The fact that we suspected corruption [in the previously floated Russia deal] doesn’t mean that nuclear is irrelevant for the country in 2019.”

Mantashe would not give a timeline for new nuclear capacity, saying the government’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) had to be approved first.

He said the IRP contained provision for “modular nuclear technology” and would hopefully be taken to the cabinet for approval in the next two to three weeks. –Reuters

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