News / South Africa

Makhosandile Zulu
2 minute read
22 Feb 2018
11:17 am

Why nuclear is not necessary for now

Makhosandile Zulu

According to the minister we have so much power right now, we are exporting it.

Minister of Finance Malusi Gigaba reaffirmed that South Africa cannot afford the nuclear project and that the country does not need it at the moment.

Gigaba was speaking at a Morning Live Post Budget 2018 Breakfast this morning.

Here are the reasons the minister cited as to why the project is not a requirement at this point:

  1. The slowing down of the economy, since 2009, resulted in reduced demand for electricity;
  2. The reduced demand saw a decrease in Eskom’s revenue, which is reflected as excess electricity of an estimated 5000 to 5700 megawatts. “That is more electricity than the full capacity of Medupi when it will be fully commissioned – which will be the fourth-biggest power station in the world,” Gigaba said.
  3. A renewable energy independent power producers programme is set to come on stream once power purchase agreements have been signed.

“That basically means for now and in the immediate future we are well catered for; we are even exporting electricity,” he said.

However, the minister said once the targets of 6% to 7% economic growth set out in the National Development Plan have been reached then the need for baseload electricity will arise.

“Because we have taken the decision that we are going to reduce coal-fired power stations to reduce carbon emissions we are going to focus more on bringing on stream renewable electricity generation,” Gigaba added.

He said once the country had a demand for nuclear the process around commissioning it would be transparent, adding that the time frame on when the energy source would be needed could be between five or even 15 years.

The minister confirmed that nuclear remains part of the energy mix.

Responding to a question that his, along with the president of country’s, position on nuclear contrasts with that of Minister of Energy David Mahlobo, Gigaba said:

“He [Mahlobo] is saying that the policy hasn’t changed. Cabinet can change the policy if there is another source for baseload electricity supply other then coal.”