The Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa (Niasa) has urged the government and energy sector to have a broad perspective in their energy planning and include nuclear in a balanced energy mix. The government should not be distracted by the fact that the country currently had an oversupply of electricity, as planning was concerned with the future, not the present.
“We congratulate the [Finance] Minister on a progressive budget, although there is no immediate focus on nuclear [energy],” stated Niasa MD Knox Msebenzi, speaking on the sidelines of the Africa Energy Indaba. “As South Africans we need to align the nation towards a common goal of creating jobs and ensure we do not expend our limited resources on unnecessary distractions. Economic development is key to achieve this and the foundation is a robust energy policy, which is forward looking and not laced in emotional sentiments.”
Increasing urbanisation and rising industrial production is expected to result in increasing demand for electricity over the next 20 years. This should be met, Niasa affirmed, by a balanced energy mix which included nuclear as well as other stable and advanced energy technologies. “[W]e do not see nuclear as being in competition with other energy technologies but advocate for a balanced energy mix, which speaks to the economic development ambitions of the country,” he affirmed.
“According to the World Energy Outlook 2016 report published by the International Energy Agency, … nuclear energy is one of the preferred methods of mitigate against climate change, thus populist rhetoric to label it as unclean are misleading,” he highlighted. Moreover, the development of a new nuclear power plant (NPP) programme in the future would, because it would have a “strong multiplier effect”, create jobs and promote socioeconomic development, by means of localising the NPP supply chains.
“As the nuclear industry, we also acknowledge the green light given to [national electricity utility] Eskom to purchase additional power from renewable energy independent power producers, despite the earlier assertion that there is currently an oversupply,” noted Msebenzi. “We support this move …. That being said we equally caution against rushed decisions, which only fix short-term challenges.”