Nuclear power is a necessity – Magubane

Nuclear power is more of a necessity than an option says Department of Energy Director General Nelisiwe Magubane.

“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 the Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa (NIASA) conference in Port Elizabeth today, 15 August, Magubane said the country’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2010 to 2030 committed the country to nuclear power. The plan is a 20-year projection on electricity supply and demand.

In March 2011, Cabinet decided that 9 600 MW of energy in South Africa will be developed using nuclear energy.

The department has obtained Cabinet approval to publish the Integrated Energy Plan (IEP), which is seen as guiding future energy infrastructure investment and policy. Public consultations on the IEP will commence next month while the department will review the IRP 2010-2030 at the same time, .

“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.

The last nuclear build (Koeberg Nuclear Power station) was done more than 25 years ago.

“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,” Magubane continued.

Eskom would be the major shareholder as the owner-operator of new nuclear plants. “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.”

In addition Magubane revealed the department has been seeking advisors to assist in preparation for the nuclear programme. However, some of the work done has been less than satisfactory.

Government needs high quality advice in order to take appropriate decision. “We are of the view that nuclear energy can be deployed successfully, built on time and budget,” Magubane added.”

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