“Given our climate change commitments and the fact that some of the coal-fired power stations will retire around 2022 and require replacement, nuclear power is becoming more of a necessity than an option,” Magubane said on Wednesday.
Speaking at a Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa conference in Port Elizabeth, Magubane said the Department of Energy was “of the view that nuclear energy can be deployed successfully, built on time and budget”.
She noted that the country’s Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) for 2010 to 2030, a 20-year projection on electricity supply and demand, envisaged 9 600 MW of additional nuclear capacity by 2030.
The department is busy reviewing the IRP 2010-2030. At the same time, the department has recently obtained Cabinet approval to publish its Integrated Energy Plan, which will serve as a guide for future energy infrastructure investment and policy. Public consultations on the plan are scheduled to begin next month.
“Preliminary results indicate that if we intend to reduce our carbon footprint and also have vibrant economic growth, nuclear energy will be part of the solution,” Magubane said on Wednesday.
“Resistance to nuclear energy has been part and parcel of this industry. We know that the lack of information and knowledge is a preliminary source of fear in any setting, and the nuclear sector is not exempt from this.”
South Africa’s Koeberg nuclear plant, built more than 25 years ago, is the only nuclear power-generating facility on the African continent.
State company Eskom would be the major shareholder as the owner-operator of any new nuclear plants in the country.
“To assist with obtaining good financing and bringing in operational experience, we are looking at various ownership options for the nuclear power plants, such as an investor or equity partner to join forces with Eskom in the nuclear new build,” Magubane said.
She said the department had been seeking advisers to assist in preparation for a nuclear programme, with some of the work done so far having been less than satisfactory. The government needed the highest quality advice in order to take an appropriate decision.