Eskom will spend R580bn on expanding electricity capacity over the next five years, according to Mongezi Ntsokolo, group executive for distribution at the power utility.
Ntsokolo opened the first day of the African Utility Week on Tuesday, which is taking place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
He emphasised that South Africa will have to rely on coal-fired power stations and nuclear energy for base load power supply in the foreseeable future.
“We managed to add some 2 000MW of renewable energy to our national grid,” Ntsokolo said, “but we’ll have to use coal and nuclear for years to come.”
He added that Koeberg nuclear power station is the cheapest energy provider of South Africa’s fleet of 25 power stations. It generates reliable power for longer periods and requires a refuelling outage every 18 months. Koeberg will keep going for another 30 years.
“Nuclear energy can contribute significantly to socioeconomic growth in South Africa, plus it’s a clean energy option and a reliable source of base-load power,” Ntsokolo said.
“If we can built a nuclear fleet basis similar to that of the French, it will over the long term provide low-cost energy to South Africa.”
Energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said during her budget speech in parliament last week that significant preparatory work has been done for the deployment of at least 9,6GW of nuclear power by 2030.
Her department intends to issue a request for proposal to confirm market appetite for the fleet of nuclear plants, so that the government can make an informed decision about nuclear procurement.
She emphasised that the government would stick to a nuclear build programme it can afford, and make sure the process is above board and free of any potential for corruption.