South Africa is drafting a plan to procure an additional 2.5GW of nuclear power capacity within the next five years, according to the department of mineral resources & energy.
A road map for the project will be “commencing soon”, the department said in its strategic plan presented to parliament’s energy committee on Thursday. “The market will be tested for robust costing and funding options.”
South Africa currently has a single nuclear plant. Support for additional facilities largely faded after the ruling party forced Jacob Zuma to step down as president in 2018. More plants were widely considered unaffordable and the coronavirus-induced economic slump has further dented the government’s ability to pay for them.
“The nuclear build plan will go ahead and we will explore all options,” mineral resources & energy minister Gwede Mantashe told lawmakers. A contract may be awarded to “develop a modular nuclear station on a build, operate and transfer basis, and that means no there will be no immediate call for funding from the state”.
The department’s strategic outline for the next five years envisions a continued role for nuclear power, including extending the life of the Koeberg plant beyond 2024 and the replacement of the Safari-1 research reactor with a multi-purpose one. — Reported by Paul Burkhardt and Paul Vecchiatto