South African
energy minister
Dipuo Peters.
 
Cape Town, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 16 March 2011 – South African government decisions on future nuclear plants may be affected by concerns about radioactivity from Japan’s earthquake-stricken reactor, according to the country’s energy minister.

“It has a bearing on the way in which we make decisions, on the way in which we make policies, and also in the way we construct nuclear power plants,” Dipuo Peters told the African Utility Week conference in the Cape Town International Convention Centre.

South Africa currently operates Africa’s sole nuclear plant here, and has said it would like to build six new 1,600MW plants to make nuclear supply 14% of its energy mix by 2030, as it seeks to halve its reliance on dirtier coal.

The world’s top producer of platinum and a major supplier of gold, South Africa seeks to meet fast-rising demand for power and to avert a repeat of a the 2008 crisis that shut industry down for several days and cost billions of dollars in lost output.

But the international nuclear power industry has taken a beating as governments address safety fears and investors bail out of stocks because of the Japan crisis.

South Africa has yet to make a final decision on the proposed nuclear plants. Its new energy resource plan “’ which will determine the country’s electricity mix over the next 20 years “’ is being debated by the cabinet and is expected to be approved by parliament by the end of this month.