Africa|Coal|Coal-fired Power Station|Energy|Exploration|Gas|Nuclear|Power|Refinery|Resources
Africa|Coal|Coal-fired Power Station|Energy|Exploration|Gas|Nuclear|Power|Refinery|Resources

Mantashe restates his positions on energy at conference, but highlights nuclear

18th October 2022

By: Rebecca Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor


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Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe delivered his third keynote address to his third international energy conference in Cape Town, in as many weeks, on Tuesday. This time it was to Africa Energy Week. Unsurprisingly, the three speeches differed only slightly in content and more significantly in arrangement.

In this address, he gave greater stress to nuclear energy than in the previous two versions he had delivered. He highlighted that South Africa’s energy resources included uranium.

He reported that renewables, on average, actually produced only 25% to 30% of their installed capacity. (For South Africa’s current coal-fired power station fleet the figure was about 70%). This meant that meeting South Africa’s electricity requirements with only renewables would involve creating a capacity three to four times greater than the country’s actual needs. Nuclear power was much more efficient.

He affirmed that nuclear energy, combined with renewables, would make a successful energy strategy for the country. Nuclear was expensive up to the commissioning of a power plant, because the costs were nearly all up-front. Once a nuclear power plant (NPP) was commissioned, it became cheap.

He noted how Germany (well-known for its hostility to nuclear energy), when short of electricity, never hesitated to buy nuclear-generated power from France. In South Africa, the Koeberg NPP provided the cheapest energy (within State-owned national electricity utility Eskom). “It’s important to supplement our energy with nuclear,” he stated.

He again highlighted the need to counter energy poverty in Africa. Solving this problem was essential to ensuring economic growth across the continent.

Once more he pointed out that, should South Africa rapidly phase out its use of coal, there would be most severe socioeconomic consequences for towns across the coal-producing Mpumalanga province. Moreover, South Africa was currently surviving on coal-generated power; it couldn’t simply be turned off.

He also restated that, while the European Union (EU) offered South Africa $8.5-billion (which, he highlighted, was overwhelmingly a loan, not a grant) to phase out coal, the South African coal sector had recorded a turnover of R130-billion in 2021. Taking $8.5-billion from the EU to close down a R130-billion sector of the South African economy did not, he said, make sense.

He noted that gas had been identified as an important transitional energy source for Africa, so exploration should continue. The country was planning a new refinery, on the west coast, just south of the Namibian border.

South Africa needed an energy mix, he again affirmed.

“This continent must be the continent of the future,” he stressed. “Intra-African trade must be central in everything we do. … We must produce black capitalists.”

He once more assured that South Africa was fully committed to achieving net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter





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