South Africa’s Energy Minister Dipuo Peters has again stressed South Africa’s phased approach to making a decision on new nuclear capacity – an approach guided by a desire to mitigate the risks and maximise benefits to the country.
Her director-general Nelisiwe Magubane added that the country, was, thus, “nowhere near advertising the tender”.
Speaking at the signing of procurement and implementation agreements for 19 more renewable-energy projects on Thursday, Peters said the nuclear plan would be presented for Cabinet approval in digestible components.
The first component had been Cabinet’s endorsement of Eskom as the owner/operator of any new nuclear facilities that might be constructed.
The current version of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for electricity stated that South Africa would build 9 600 MW of new nuclear capacity by 2030. However, it had been acknowledged that that schedule could not be met, owing to delays in finalising the plan.
In addition, a new IRP would be published before the end of the year, which would probably take account of the lower-than-anticipated growth in demand for electricity since the publication of the 2010 to 2030 version, as well as the broad-based appeal for more gas to be added into the generation road map’s mix.
Magubane explained that Cabinet would be requested to make phased “decisions in order to ensure that we minimise the risk” of what is a “huge programme”. The capital costs have been estimated at between R600-billion and R1-trillion.
Besides the owner/operator model, decisions would need to be made on affordability, the funding plan and funding methods, as well as on a range of other aspects from localisation to waste management.
The Department of Energy issued a tender last week for a service provider to conduct a study on the costs of nuclear power, which would help inform the decision-making process.
Direction would also be taken from the recently completed report by the International Atomic Energy Agency to assess South Africa’s readiness to embark on a new nuclear build programme.
Magubane said that only once Cabinet had been appraised of the costs, as well as the possible gaps in South Africa’s readiness would a decision be made on the issuance of a tender.
“So at this point in time, we are nowhere near advertising the tender,” Magubane stressed, but she did not discount the possibility of the tender being issued before the end of the year.