South Africa’s decision to forge ahead with plans to introduce nuclear power are based on ensuring the energy supply going into the future, Energy Minister David Mahlobo said.
“South Africa recognises the role of nuclear power in ensuring security of energy supply and meeting the challenge of climate change. We promote an energy mix of coal, gas, renewables and nuclear. Each of these options has their role; some of the energy sources are intermittent supply and while others, such as nuclear and coal, are base-load supply,” said Minister Mahlobo.
Minister Mahlobo told those attending the 44th Policy Group Meeting of Generation IV International Forum in Cape Town that being a developing country, South Africa’s key driver to the policy decision for nuclear power is based on the economics of the energy source.
“Currently Koeberg is one of our lowest cost electricity sources, and generation III nuclear power plants remain a good economic choice for South Africa. Generation IV nuclear power plants promise improved economics and South Africa looks forward to deploying such advanced energy systems for its development,” he said on Thursday.
Located in Cape Town, Koeberg is the only nuclear power station on the African continent.
The Department of Environmental Affairs has recently issued a positive record of decision for Eskom to proceed with an Environmental Impact Assessment into the suitability of the same site to host 4000 MW of nuclear generated electricity.
Minister Mahlobo said the Department of Energy welcomes this decision as it allows for a public participation process.
He told the gathering that the country has accumulated extensive experience in nuclear technology development and nuclear power generation.
“South Africa has made a policy decision to pursue nuclear energy as part of the energy mix and recognises the role of nuclear as a base-load source of energy in ensuring security of supply and climate change mitigation.”
Currently, nuclear constitutes about 6% of the South African energy mix – with 1 800 megawatts of electricity supplied to the national grid by the Koeberg.
The approved Integrated Resource Plan of 2010-30 provides for coal, gas, renewables and 9600 megawatt nuclear as part of the energy landscape by 2030.
Minister Mahlobo added that one of the most important facets of nuclear power is its safety.
“With most of the reactors globally still being Generation II, South Africa has taken a decision to deploying only Generation III or above type technology going forward. Although the Fukushima disaster had catastrophic consequences, nuclear power continues to be the safest source of electricity.”