An integrated nuclear infrastructure review had been finalised in May and it was imperative that this report be made public as soon as possible, Energy Department director-general Nelisiwe Magubane told MPs yesterday.
Members of the department briefed MPs serving on the energy portfolio committee on the department’s progress and pitfalls in the last year.
Pressed by DA energy spokesman Lance Greyling on why the “costing report” had not been made public “so we can have a proper debate and feed into the integrated resource plan” for the country, Magubane said that the report had been analysed by the department and that it had made recommendations.
“There is no intention to keep this report secret,” she said, but noted that it had to be considered by the cabinet before it was made public.
Meanwhile, deputy director-general Ompi Aphane said the update of the integrated resource plan had been completed. This document provided the department with a better projection of energy demands. Assumptions around the costs of producing electricity had also been made.
Neither document was available to MPs yesterday.
Last week, Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba told an Eskom briefing that South Africa would go ahead with its nuclear power build programme, but not before all concerns surrounding nuclear energy had been discussed.
“It is foolhardy to hasten to implement the nuclear programme unless we have determined well in advance all the measures we need to take,” Gigaba said.
The cost of the proposed 9 600 megawatt nuclear plant have been estimated to range between R300 million and R1 trillion. The minister was emphatic that Eskom would own the nuclear power plant. The government would look at the utility’s capacity to fund the programme.
In July, President Jacob Zuma quietly replaced Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe as chairman of the National Nuclear Energy Co-ordination Committee, which guides all arms of the government with a stake in the nuclear project.
In March, Motlanthe had said nuclear energy needed to be established in South Africa.
The National Energy Regulator of SA reported to the committee that Eskom supplied about 97 percent of all electricity in South Africa. This was provided by 13 coal-fired power stations, providing 37 678MW. Gas turbine driven stations, of which there were four, produced 1 207MW, two hydroelectric plants produced just 600MW, two pumped storage stations produced 1 400MW while the nuclear power station at Koeberg generated 1 800MW.
Renewable energy produced just 3.2MW while four distribution embedded stations produced 62MW. The total supply capacity was 44 175MW.