Russia’s State-owned nuclear corporation Rosatom still believes that nuclear energy has a place in the future development of South Africa. This follows comments made by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba on Wednesday (Budget Day), which suggested that the country’s planned programme to build a fleet of new nuclear power plants (NPP) had been significantly postponed.
“[F]or the foreseeable future we don’t see South Africa needing nuclear [power],” he said in answer to a question. He emphasised that a new NPP programme was not currently affordable, because of the weak financial position of both the government and national electricity utility Eskom.
Furthermore, the country currently enjoyed an electricity surplus. As a result, there was no intent to pursue a new NPP programme. And when the electricity supply-and-demand balance was restored, the new demand would be addressed by “the least-cost measures”.
However, nuclear power remained part of the government’s policy of having an “energy mix”. Currently, Eskom operates the two-reactor Koeberg NPP near Cape Town, which has an installed capacity of 1 940 MW and is the only NPP in Africa.
“While Rosatom respects any decision taken by the Government of South Africa, we do still believe that nuclear has an important role to play in the country’s energy mix and its future economic development,” said the group’s regional VP: Central and Southern Africa, Viktor Polikarpov. He was responding to a query from Engineering News Online.
“We remain committed to helping the countries of Africa, Asia and Europe in achieving their goals of a balanced energy mix and rapid economic development,” he affirmed. “We are confident in our world-class technology, unmatched safety standards and highly competitive solutions.”