In a bid to reduce dependency on coal-fired power, South African energy minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, stated that the country will be proceeding with the new nuclear build.

Speaking in parliament on Wednesday, the minister said that the department of energy will issue requests for proposals on a nuclear procurement process on 30 September 2016.

Nuclear procurement process around the corner

This statement follows Eskom CEO Brian Molefe’s statement in July, where he noted that the country needs nuclear power and the development of additional renewable power projects was impractical.

Molefe said this in response to the parastatal’s decision to not sign any additional power purchase agreements after the current round of the renewable energy independent power programme.

According to Molefe, the accelerated drive for renewables was based on the integrated resource plan of 2011, which he said was now out of date, the Sunday Times reported at the time.

Nuclear needed for base load

Concerns around nuclear remain high due to the high associated costs and the overall transparency of the process.

However, Molefe believes that nuclear power is needed to sustain the national power supply, which is a cleaner alternative to coal feedstock and which is more reliable than renewables.

“Sometimes it’s important to confront the facts rather than be passionate about issues. On any given day I will need about 35,000MW at 6pm for peak demand. When that happens, none of the solar panels installed in South Africa today will be available since the sun will have set,” Molefe said at the time of his statement.

He added: “I cannot guarantee that there will be enough wind today at 6pm to take us through the peak. That is a fact that confronts me on a daily basis.”

Molefe noted that the utility was obliged to procure day-time solar power or wind-generated power that it did not need from independent power producers.

“You can’t talk about competition in power production and then force me to buy from IPPs in 20-year agreements. The whole renewable energy industry’s competitive edge relies upon them being able to sign 20-year [power purchase agreements] with us. Surely that cannot be free-market economics?”

Adding that further renewable projects would not be the practical way forward, he said that he wants an increase in coal and nuclear base-load power.

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