Picture: Dean Hutton/Bloomberg

Cape Town - South Africa's government has delayed long-term nuclear power expansion plans, according to a draft energy blueprint released on Tuesday, although state power utility Eskom said it would continue with an earlier target.

South Africa will increase nuclear power output by 1 359 megawatts (MW) by 2037 and 20 385 MW by 2050, the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) said. Previously South Africa was aiming to add 9.6 gigawatts of new nuclear power by 2030.


However, power utility Eskom said it will request proposals this year from companies looking to build nuclear power plants as it continues on its original plan to bring the first new nuclear plant online in 2025.

Energy analysts have said the 9.6 gigawatt plan was ambitious on timescale and unnecessary, while opponents of President Jacob Zuma raised concerns about a lack of transparency in deals which could cost in the region of $80 billion.

Several meetings between Zuma and Russian President Vladimir Putin over the last two years led to speculation that Russian state-run nuclear firm Rosatom had secured the deal before the launch of the public tender. South Africa's government and Rosatom denied this.

South Africa, which has the continent's only nuclear power station, is seeking to expand nuclear, wind, solar and coal power capacity in the coming decades as its current electricity output barely meets demand.

The IRP included plans to add a further 37 400 MW of wind and 17 600 MW of solar power by 2050.