The government has indicated that they will be going ahead with procuring 9600MW of nuclear power to meet energy needs. However they are doing so using an outdated – and contested – electricity plan from the 2010 Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity (IRP).
The IRP is meant to be updated every two years and the draft review of 2013’s IRP showed that electricity demand is dropping, indicating that there is no need for large nukes (which the 2013 IRP also advised against). Solar PV prices have also dropped drastically making nuclear the expensive option in comparison. However this IRP review was never finalised allowing government to continue on an old electricity plan!
South Africa signed a nuclear deal with Russia and tried to claim it was one of many with other countries like France, USA and China. However the Russian deal is much more specific and also contains clauses that placed all liability of nuclear power stations going wrong squarely in South Africa’s hands.
Government has touted a study on economic and financial aspects of a potential nuclear deal, but this is not completed and not in the public eye. Yet the deal continues to be lauded by our president – at SONA and by his cabinet.
The Nene debacle last year was also in part due to nuclear – Nene refused to fund this expenditure and Pravin is now also being cautious.
SAFCEI has launched two lines of legal inquiry; one with ODAC to try to get access to affordability studies and another together with Earthlife Africa Johannesburg (ELA), the Legal Resource Centre (LRC) and Adrian Pole Attorneys to get the nuclear decision overturned on procedural points.
The Department of Energy (DoE) has dragged its feet in responding on time, requesting extensions and not providing the relevant information requested. It seems the government is not willing to stop this charade, as they continue to claim that they have followed due process in the documents they provide.