Ramokgopa says the Department of Mineral Resources has met Nersa’s requirements for procuring nuclear power.
Electricity minister, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, says the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) has approved the process to secure an additional generating capacity from nuclear.
Ramokgopa briefed the media on Tuesday morning on the determination for the procurement of 2,500 MW of new generation capacity from nuclear.
Ramokgopa said part of the reason why South Africa has been experiencing load shedding is a lack of appreciation for long-term interventions to secure the country’s energy security in the future.
The minister said the procurement of nuclear energy would assist the country in achieving a generation mix required to reach the envisaged demand.
“This will assist in determining the scale at which the country will need to procure additional generation capacity from various technologies including nuclear,” he said.
“There has to be an appreciation of what is the profile of generation and the demand and in that context, you can make a case on why you need to proceed with this 2,500 MW.
“I think the case is compelling, part of the reason why we are here with regards to the energy crisis is that the generation can’t meet demand and therefore you need to have additional generation capacity because we make the point all the time that the Eskom fleet is aging and we need additional generation capacity to help us ensure we can secure the country’s energy’s future.”
All the conditions to procure nuclear energy have been met, said Ramokgopa.
“The report was sent to Nersa in July and Nersa had an obligation to satisfy itself if conditions are sufficient for Nersa to consider giving this process the green light. I am happy to indicate that on 30 August 2023, Nersa considered the suspensive submission and said they have been satisfactorily addressed.”
The program was given the go-ahead on 2 September, and now the government has started the process of gazetting it.
“We’re going out to ensure that we’re able to get that additional 2,500MW of nuclear capacity to ensure we’re able to meet issues of national security and energy sovereignty.”
Nuclear power: Significant milestone
The government had to restart the process of procuring nuclear energy from scratch after the first attempt was stopped in its tracks during Jacob Zuma’s presidency in 2017.
At the time, the Cape Town High court declared the plan invalid.
It found that the government had not followed due process in signing off on the deal, which would have seen South Africa purchasing 9,600 megawatts of additional nuclear power.
In the ruling, Judge Lee Bozalek said the nuclear power agreement had too many tax exemptions for Russia, among other issues.
On Tuesday, Ramokgopa labeled the green light from Nersa as a “significant milestone”.
“We know that historically, the process was mired in controversy. Now we have been able to iron out the issues related to how the procurement process needs to unfold. We have met the regulatory requirements and legal requirements and also now that we have the concurrence of Nersa, we can proceed.”
The nuclear program could, however, take at least 10 years to finalize, with the first plant expected to be online around 2032.