File photo: GCIS

Parliament - The DA on Monday warned again on the cost of government's proposed nuclear build programme and the deep hole it could dig for the South African economy.

“This programme could cost the country upwards of R1 trillion, and will push up electricity prices to completely unaffordable levels,” Democratic Alliance MP Lance Greyling told MPs.

Speaking in Parliament during a debate on the department of energy's R7.4 billion budget, he said high electricity prices would depress economic growth, which in turn would reduce electricity demand.

“We could have the absurd situation whereby, after spending vast sums of money on this programme and over 10 years building these nuclear plants, there will no longer be the customers willing to buy the energy from them.

“This is the arms deal and the e-toll debacle rolled into one and then magnified by 10,” Greyling said.

Earlier, opening the debate, Energy Minister Tina

Joemat-Pettersson described government's nuclear expansion plans as “a central feature” in the country's future energy mix.

“Our plan is to introduce some 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear energy in the next decade, in addition to running Koeberg power station.”

Joemat-Pettersson told the House that she intended to focus on and accelerate “all the outstanding matters that will lead to the commencement of the nuclear-build programme”.

Government's Integrated Resource Plan makes provision for additional power generation of 9.6GW from nuclear, 6.3GW from coal, 11.4GW from “renewables”, and 11GW from other sources in the period up to 2030.

Greyling said there were “huge concerns” about the nuclear programme among both business and the civil sector.

“It seems the only person truly in favour of this programme is the president himself, and given the huge potential for corruption in this programme, I suppose it is not difficult to understand why.”

Greyling said the DA would not stand idly by and “let the ANC dig this country into an even bigger hole than it has already dug in the energy sector”.

In his state-of-the-nation address last month, President Jacob Zuma said South Africa's electricity crisis called for “a radical transformation of the energy sector” that included nuclear energy.

“Nuclear has the possibility of generating well over 9000megawatts,” he said at the time.