The South African Department of Energy has allocated R850-million to its nuclear expansion plans, including additional research and development into nuclear energy and the safety matters thereof.

Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said in her Energy Budget Vote on Monday: “Regulations for the handling of hazardous materials, in terms of international obligations, and the development of nuclear policies and legislation to ensure the peaceful use of nuclear energy will also be pursued.”

The Energy Minister re-affirmed government’s support for the procurement of 9600 MW of nuclear energy over the next 10 years, with an expected cost of R400-billion and R1-trillion.

Ms Joemat-Pettersson continued: “I intend to focus on and accelerate all the outstanding matters that will lead to the commencement of the nuclear build programme … These include the localisation, financing, funding, skills development, fuel cycle and uranium beneficiation strategies to support the nuclear new build programme.”

With state utility Eskom struggling with cost overruns on the Mudupi and Kusile coal-fired power stations, Joemat-Pettersson has introduced plans focusing on the development of gas, especially shale gas in South Africa’s energy mix. This comes in addition to the department’s nuclear expansion plans, underpinned by the integrated energy resource plan – the country’s 20-year electricity road map.

“With regard to the development of our gas resources, including the regional gas opportunities in neighbouring countries and our own shale gas resources, a draft of the Gas Utilisation Master Plan (Gump) is being finalised.”

The Gas Utilisation Master Plan included the development of a gas receiving and storage terminal for liquefied natural gas (LNG). This would be used to meet the gas-to-liquids requirements of Petro-SA’s Mossel Bay refinery, and will convert Eskom’s open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs), presently operating on diesel.

“Together with imported and locally sourced natural gas, as well as the introduction of 9.6 GW of nuclear power, we will lay the foundations for a new mix of national energy sources.”

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