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Mantashe reiterates South Africa’s plans for new nuclear projects

A senior minister has reiterated the South African government’s intention to add 2,500MW of new nuclear power to the country’s energy generation capacity, against a backdrop of continuing power cuts of several hours per day in the country.

Speaking at the Minerals Council of South Africa’s AGM on Wednesday, Gwede Mantashe, minister of mineral resources and energy, said the projects will be “developed at a rate that the country can afford”, according to a report by Business Live.

Plans for South Africa to procure 2,500MW of energy from nuclear power were approved by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) in 2021, paving the way for the government to begin the procurement process.

Early last year, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) issued a request for proposals for a service provider to create a procurement framework for an additional 2,500MW of nuclear power on top of the 1.94GW produced by the two pressurised water reactors at Koeberg power station near Cape Town. The DMRE said the successful bidder would have 12 weeks to develop the framework and ensure that it complies with domestic legislation and international best practice.

The DMRE has previously indicated that procurement would be completed by 2024 with the new capacity operational by 2030, in line with the decommissioning of South Africa’s coal power generation facilities.

Speaking in South Africa’s parliament last month, Mantashe said nuclear power can play a role in supporting South Africa’s transition to greener energy.

Mantashe said: “France gets at least 75% of its electricity from nuclear power and does not have any disasters. We have run Koeberg for 40 years and have not had any disasters. We must not deal with nuclear out of fear; it is increasingly getting space in the energy supply. Europe has identified it as part of the green transition, together with gas, and that is our attitude in the department.”

Jurg van Dyk, an expert in energy projects at Pinsent Masons, said: “In the current energy crisis South Africa can indeed benefit from additional generating capacity, be it from nuclear, gas-fired or renewable energy sources. The team at Pinsent Masons is advising clients across the globe on projects involving all of these technologies”.

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