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SA renews commitment to nuclear and renewable energy

Cape Town, South Africa — ESI-AFRICA.COM — 27 May 2011 – South African energy minister Dipuo Peters has reiterated the government’s commitment to nuclear and renewable energy as part of its integrated resources plan (IRP).

“As I indicated recently, the nuclear transaction needs to be commenced well in time so that we can commission the power by 2023,” she told the National Assembly during debate on her budget vote.

“Recent events at the Fukushima-Daichi nuclear power station in Japan made it necessary for South Africa to take careful stock of the implications of these developments for its nuclear power programme, as outlined in the IRP,” she said.

She explained that it was therefore prudent and responsible that the relevant interventions by other countries in such situations be monitored.

“This could include increasing the safety requirements of the nuclear technology, selecting the sites for the power stations in areas less susceptible to seismic activity, as well as putting in place dedicated institutional mechanisms for dealing with nuclear safeguards,” Peters continued.

“We are not lost to the need for a rigorous awareness building exercise regarding nuclear power and its pros and cons, so that our communities are better informed about not only the risks, but the benefits as well,” she said.

The accident at Fukushima had happened at a time that made it possible for South Africa to factor the appropriate lessons into the design of its nuclear power programme, and to take advantage of experiences from other countries.

“We are constantly getting updates from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other sources regarding the lessons learned from Fukushima,” Peters revealed.

“We are still convinced that nuclear power is a necessary part of our strategy that seeks to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions through a diversified portfolio, comprising some fossil-based, renewable and energy efficiency technologies."

Turning to renewable energy, Peters said: “We have finally arrived at a point where we are ready to procure the first clean energy projects indicated under the integrated resource plan.”
It was hoped to conclude at least 1000MW of renewable energy transactions by December this year, in time for showcasing in Durban at South Africa-hosted COP 17 “’ the 17th conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change,

"Secondly, following the successful Solar Park International Investors Conference held in October last year, the department has committed R18.6 million towards the completion of a comprehensive feasibility study to explore the possibility of solar technologies by July this year,” Peters revealed.

The IRP lays the foundation for the country’s energy mix up to 2030. It provides for a diversified energy mix comprising coal (14%), nuclear (22.6%), open cycle gas turbine (9.2%), closed cycle gas turbine (5.6%), and renewable energy carriers including hydro (6.1%), wind (19.7%), concentrated solar power (2.4%), and PV (19.7%).