The Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa (NIASA) has today called on the country’s energy industry and the government to take a long-term view of energy planning and not be distracted by current oversupply. NIASA’s comments were in reaction to yesterday’s budget speech by Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba.
Gigaba’s speech, delivered to a plenary sitting of South Africa’s National Assembly, set out details of spending for specific plans following on from President Cyril Ramaphosa’s 16 February State of the Nation address. Although neither speech specifically mentioned the country’s plans for nuclear energy, both Ramaphosa and Gigaba have said that procurement of new nuclear power is not currently a priority for the country.
According to comments Tweeted by the National Treasury yesterday, Gigaba said: „We cannot afford nuclear. Due to slow economic growth, South Africa currently has excess electricity; therefore, we do not need additional capacity now.“
Ramaphosa, then deputy president, made similar comments in January at a press conference at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. According to the IOL news agency, Ramaphosa said South Africa’s proposed nuclear power plant programme would only be considered in the broad context of affordability.
NIASA Managing Director Knox Msebenzi today congratulated Gigaba on a „progressive“ budget, although there was no immediate focus on nuclear.
„As South Africans we need to align the nation towards a common goal of creating jobs and ensure we do not expend our limited resources on unnecessary distractions. Economic development is key to achieve this and the foundation is a robust energy policy, which is forward looking and not laced in emotional sentiments,“ he said.
„Electricity demand is expected to increase in the next 20 years, due to urbanisation and increased industrial production. Thus, a balanced energy mix, which includes stable and advanced energy technologies such as nuclear are critical to secure the future which we all desire,“ Msebenzi said. He also noted the potential of nuclear technology to drive job creation and socio-economic development through major opportunities in supply chain localisation.
Msebenzi said the South African nuclear industry acknowledged and supported the decision to allow state utility Eskom to purchase additional power from independent power producers of renewable energy, despite the assertion of oversupply.
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