Is Nuclear Power really back in the mix?

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy has published ta Request For Information (RFI) in preparation for a nuclear build programme to the extent of 2 500 MW.

Thyspunt was the preferred site for a new nuclear power plant during the years of the Zuma presidency.

“Given the long lead-time of building additional new nuclear capacity, upfront planning is necessary for security of energy supply to society into the future,” said the Department in a statement.

“The RFI is intended to commence the Departmental preparatory work to develop plans for a future nuclear energy build programme.

This is in line with the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2019 Decision 8 which states that the Department will:

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“Commence preparations for a nuclear build programme at a pace and scale that the country can afford because it is a no-regret option in the long term”.

This will enable the Department to gain insight into the cost of the programme, possible ownership structures, cost recovery, the end user cost and sustainability of the programme,” said the Department.

There was strong opposition from environmentalists and local residents to a nuclear power plant being build at Thyspunt, a site renowned for its archeological importance, the impact on the squid breeding grounds and the impact on the local tourism industry.

9600 MW of nuclear energy at a cost of over R 1 trillion was taken off the table by the 2019 IRP and its doubtful that South Africa can afford even a scaled down nuclear build, especially in light of a surge in renewable energy options including wind, solar and ocean energy.

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