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This morning 12 December 2023, Minister of Electricity Kgosientsho Ramokgopa held a briefing to update media on the ministerial determination for the procurement of 2500 MW of new generation capacity from nuclear. According to the Minister, on 30 August 2023 the National Energy Regulator (Nersa) gave the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) the go-ahead to proceed, subsequently issuing a formal concurrence on 2 September. This will now be gazetted. 

 

SAFCEI’s Executive Director Francesca de Gasparis says, “The announcement that the electricity minister will be procuring 2500MW new nuclear energy has been met with disbelief by civil society. All the independent modelling shows that nuclear energy is neither affordable nor needed in our energy mix now or in the future. We know electricity baseload does not need nuclear energy and in the absence of a finalised and fully reviewed IRP2023, today’s announcement by government seems to be motivated by greed, not need. During the question time this morning, queries about the true costs associated with nuclear energy were met with non-answers. 

 

If the government was serious about addressing the energy needs of people living in South Africa, in our view decision-making would be going in a totally different direction from this. The stream of announcements on energy: gas, Karpowerships and nuclear energy are all coming out just as many South Africans are in the final working week of the year. Just as South Africans are getting ready for some much-needed downtime, we are bombarded with news of what seems to a series of poor energy decisions from the government. 

 

Many will question the timing and process on why energy procurement is this being announced before finalising the IRP2023. What is the rush? Since nuclear energy plants take decades to build, would it not be better to ensure that it is in fact the right thing to do for the country, before we seek to commit? We have not seen proof that this is new announcement for more nuclear energy is being done at a pace and scale that the country can afford.”  

 

 Earthlife Africa Director Makoma Lekalakala says, “It’s surprising how the announcement on the 2,500 megawatts ministerial determination is announced by the minister of electricity. This is something we expected to be announced by Nersa, to let us know that the DMRE had satisfied the suspensive conditions that were set, according to section 34. Section 34 also mentions that any electricity generation option has got to be the least cost option and we know that nuclear is not the least cost. 

 

This announcement is not, by any means, going to assist in alleviating loadshedding because any form of nuclear construction will likely take 20 or more years to complete. We should not be fooled that in 2032 that this will be up and running. It has been proven, all over the world, that mega-infrastructure projects like these take much longer than anticipated. 

 

Then, with the integrated resource plan (IRP) still only under review, I don’t understand how this announcement can be made before the IRP2023 has been finalised. There has been no public participation, and the public has not even had a peek into how it looks or what it contains, nor have we had a chance to make our comments on the plan proposed by government. 

 

The entire process is flawed! Nersa has not made a public announcement on the ministerial determination on the 2500MW new nuclear electricity generation capacity. We also don’t have a fully reviewed IRP2023, which is the integrated resource plan that would inform whether we need this new nuclear generation capacity.”

 

And according to The Green Connection’s Liziwe McDaid, who also works with SAFCEI as its energy expert, “This week, we have seen the announcement of the PetroSA Gazprom deal, which in our view raises many, many questions, given that, for years, PetroSA has not been a going concern and it seems its only lifeline is if Eskom continues to use so much diesel – which is a fossil fuel we urgently need to move away from – to keep the lights on.  

 

So, this is a very tangled web that we are not happy with. And now comes an announcement of new nuclear, but there is no depth to the announcement. It was simply to say that, from the IRP2019, there is suddenly going to be this 2500MW of nuclear power, but it will only be issued in March. So why was it necessary to have a briefing today? The only answer that comes to mind is that today’s announcement is meant to distract us from the PetroSA Gazprom deal.”

 

According to The Green Connection’s Liziwe McDaid, who also works with SAFCEI as its energy expert, “This week, we have seen the announcement of the PetroSA Gazprom deal, which in our view raises many, many questions, given that, for years, PetroSA has not been a going concern and it seems its only lifeline is if Eskom continues to use so much diesel to keep the lights on.  

 

So, this is a very tangled web that we are not happy with. And now comes an announcement of new nuclear, but there is no depth to the announcement. It was simply to say that, drawn from the IRP2019, there is sudden decision and going to be this 2500MW of nuclear power, but the request for proposals (RFP) will only be issued in March. So why was it necessary to have a briefing today? The only answer that comes to mind is that today’s announcement is meant to distract us from the PetroSA Gazprom deal.”

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