14 November 2008 – The South African Department of Minerals and Energy, which will publish its Nuclear Energy Policy today, has indicated that its priorities are shifting in the face new economic realities. Acting DDG of hydrocarbons and energy planning Tseliso Maqubela, noted at a conference this week that nuclear energy required substantial upfront investments, and decisions made in this regard were difficult even in the best of economic climates, and would be even more difficult considering the current global turmoil. “It’s never easy, but at some point a decision must be made,” he added.
Maqubela said that “To say that we can proceed with the nuclear build in the same way we envisaged would be misleading – we need to reprioritise.”
He was at pains to confirm that nuclear power remained an important part of South Africa’s energy mix going forward, but that final decisions would require significant alignment and close decision making processes between Eskom and government.
“We need to explore the possibility of doing more with less, and maximise the benefit from what we already have,” he said, continuing that he believed that consumers had not truly applied their minds to energy efficiency throughout the entire value chain, and said that capacity expansion as an immediate response was not sustainable.
South Africa plans to build a second nuclear power station, dubbed ‘Nuclear 1’, and State power utility Eskom has indicated that as much as 20 000 MW of a bigger 40 000 MW capacity expansion could be based on nuclear technology. US-based Westinghouse and France’s Areva have submitted bids for the contract.