SAREC
In South Africa, the department of energy has outlined its strategic plans that will enable the country to expand its energy mix beyond its abundant coal supply.

Last week, the energy minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, listed the department’s intentions regarding the nuclear new build programme. Joemat-Pettersson also touched on the strategy for the exploration of bioenergy.

The minister reiterated that the expansion of the nuclear energy programme remains a central feature of the country’s future energy mix, linking this to the need to provide base load electricity and also to meet the significant greenhouse gas emissions reduction target that South Africa has set.

[quote]“We must re-iterate that our vision around this programme is centred on processes that will create a nuclear industry, with the objective of catapulting South Africa into the top echelons of the knowledge economy.

“We are confident that our nuclear programme would respond to job creation needs, by creating employment and fighting poverty. It will also provide assurance to the investors for security of supply for industrial purposes,” she stated.

South Africa nuclear new build programme

Joemat-Pettersson highlighted that, prior to government making the final decision regarding deploying the nuclear new build programme, detailed technical investigations were published in various studies and strategies.

“These were considered by Cabinet which has decided to allow the department of energy to issue a Request for Proposal (RFP) to confirm the market appetite for the nuclear programme,” the minister said.

She continued: “We will ensure that the process is above board and free of any potential for corruption. We will not rush the process and will meet all the necessary national and international requirements for the new build process, led by the guidance, in the main, of the International Atomic Energy Agency.”

Joemat-Pettersson said applications to license sites, where the nuclear power reactor plants are envisaged to be constructed on the coast of the Eastern and Western Cape, have been submitted to the National Nuclear Regulator in March 2016.

“The department of energy is in the process of ratifying the amendments on the Convention on the Physical Protection of nuclear material.

“The Cabinet approval process has been initiated in this regard and ratification of this amendment by South Africa is an important step and will have major effect in strengthening measures for nuclear security in South Africa as well as contribute to the global effort of strengthening nuclear security,” the energy minister revealed.

Bioenergy on the cards

Joemat-Pettersson further revealed that the energy department’s plans is investigating blending biofuels with petrol and diesel as another form of adding to South Africa’s energy resources.

She said the regulations for mandatory blending of biofuels with petrol and diesel were promulgated in August 2012 and came into effect in October 2015.

According to the energy minister, a Biofuels Regulatory Framework will be submitted to Cabinet during this year, outlining how the nascent biofuels industry will be financially supported and how the projects would be selected and supported.

Fuel emissions

Joemat-Pettersson listed the reduction of fuel emissions as the benefits of this source of energy. In addition the benefits arising from biofuels include:

  • the potential for a biofuels manufacturing industry to create a captive market for the agricultural sector
  • the opportunity of a biofuels industry to create jobs in rural areas; and
  • the reduction in imports of refined liquid transport fuel, which she said is good for the country’s balance of payments savings.

“The production of 460 million litres of biofuels, as approved by Cabinet in 2007, can create 15,000 new permanent direct jobs in the biofuels manufacturing plants and agriculture; plus over 3,000 temporary jobs during the 24 months of construction.

“A 460 million litres per annum biofuels industry can immediately improve the country’s annual balance of payments by over R2.5 billion ($166 million) at the current crude oil prices and exchange rate,” Joemat-Pettersson said.