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Eskom backs nuclear power

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Cape Town - Eskom supports South Africa's plans to build more nuclear power stations because its benefits outweighed any cost concerns, the power utility's acting chief executive said on Friday.

In the midst of it worst electricity supply shortages, Africa's most developed economy plans to add 9 600 megawatts of nuclear power in the next decade and a half, estimated by analysts to cost as much as $100 billion.

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Aerial of Koeberg power station. Must credit : Bruce Sutherland, City of Cape Town

“My instinct, and looking at Koeberg for example, is that it is likely that the future benefits will far outweigh the costs of building now,” acting CEO Brian Molefe told journalists at parliament.

Koeberg nuclear power plant is the continent's sole nuclear power plant, managed by Eskom.

Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said this week that the nation will only go ahead with a nuclear deal if it proves affordable, deflecting criticism that the expansion would be costly and done without public participation.

The utility said it expects the first 800 megawatts (MW) from its Kusile power station to come online from August 2017.

After years of delays in building new coal-fired power stations, Eskom last month added 800 MW from its Medupi station, as the first of six units started generating electricity.

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown said South Africa was not “out of the woods” yet, despite having had 25 days without power cuts.

Eskom has had to cut power to consumers almost daily for months, pushing the economy into a contraction and dragging business confidence down to a 16-year low.

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