Plan to go to market for nuclear proposals not open for review
Cabinet – Cabinet will not revisit its decision to endorse plans to proceed with a request for proposals to build new nuclear reactors, Presidency Minister Jeff Radebe said on Friday.
Reporting on the fortnightly Cabinet meeting, Radebe told reporters that the issue had not been discussed by Cabinet as it had been decided and ministers had approved the draft Infrastructure Resource Plan for publication.
“On nuclear options, we did not discuss those issues as there are Cabinet decisions on them which we gave on the ninth of December , so there is nothing new on them except that in the last Cabinet we released for public discussion the Integrated Energy Plan, as well as the resource plan,” Radebe said.
He was referring to a decision taken a year ago to proceed to the market with a call for proposals to increase nuclear energy generation.
Initial public submissions on the IRP this week saw experts, including members of Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson advisory team, challenge the blueprint’s assumptions on the need for South Africa to procure more nuclear energy.
They told public hearings that should artificial constraints on increasing the amount of renewable energy in the power mix be removed, nuclear no longer made sense in a planning model.
The contested base case scenario in the IRP provides for a first new nuclear reactor coming on line in 2037, followed by more that would add a total of 20 gigawatt to the power grid by 2050.
Eskom, which Cabinet recently designated as implementing agency instead of the energy department, plans to proceed with a request for proposals this year still despite the longer timelines for nuclear commissioning introduced in the IRP.
Matshela Koko, Eskom’s new acting CEO, also said the country could need nuclear much earlier than the scenario set out in the document, putting him at odds with Joemat-Pettersson.
Pressed on this, Radebe said he did not expect Cabinet to discuss their divergence or any aspect of the nuclear drive before a final IRP is brought before it next year.