The decision to shelve plans to build new nuclear power plants was not based on principle but price and reduced electricity demand, Energy Minister Jeff Radebe said on Tuesday.
"We have not deliberately left nuclear out but it is not in the plan due to lower demand and lower cost of other technologies," Radebe told Parliament's portfolio committee on energy.
He was briefing MPs on the new draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) released last week, which makes no provision for controversial plans by the administration of former President Jacob Zuma to construct additional nuclear plants and add 9.6 gigawatts to the national power grid.
Radebe confirmed that the department wanted to restrict the period for public submissions on the long-delayed IRP to 60 days, saying his preference had been a month period but two months had been agreed at Nedlac, where the blueprint was tabled a few days before its official gazetting.
The department refuted suggestions from MPs that it would be a mistake to proceed with two coal-fired plants under the IPP programme, that will reportedly cost the country R20-billion over their lifetime, and to procure power from the Grand Inga Hydroelectric Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as this also did not comply with the lowest cost model.
Radebe said the vast project was of importance to all of Africa and it was in part reliant on South Africa's agreement to buy some of its output to succeed.
Jacob Mbele, the department's chief director for electricity, told ANA that reneging on agreements for coal-based IPP electricity, would also cost the country in terms of penalties.