'SA urgently needs more nuclear power in its energy mix'

Eskom CEO Brian Molefe told MPs SA urgently needed to fund & operate more nuclear power plants.

A screengrab of Eskom CEO Brian Molefe.

CAPE TOWN - Eskom CEO Brian Molefe said no load shedding is expected until the end of April next year and also told Members of Parliament (MPs) South Africa urgently needs more nuclear power in its energy mix.

Molefe briefed Parliament's Public Enterprises Committee yesterday.

Eighty-seven days with just two and a half hours of load shedding, and Molefe said the lights are likely to remain on over the holidays and possibly into November next year.

"We do not think that it is possible to continue with an energy mix that excludes nuclear."

He came out in support of the government's planned nuclear build programme.

When asked about the controversial nuclear build programme, with its estimated price tag of R1 trillion, Molefe didn't beat around the bush.

"It is feasible to fund and operate further nuclear plants in South Africa and, in fact, it is urgent we do so."

He insisted the programme is doable and said a nuclear reactor has a life of more than 60 years, but can be paid off around 20 years.

Eskom said the average age of its base load power stations is 34 years, that means unplanned breakdowns, a lot of maintenance, and the risk of load shedding.

While Molefe's good news about load shedding was welcomed by the committee, there are concerns about the billions owed by Soweto and other municipalities and whether a shrinking economy has eased pressure on the grid.

The utility's CEO said maintenance will be stepped up in December, when there's lower demand for electricity over the holidays.

He says this will ensure more units are available to ease the strained grid.

Molefe said the focus has been on proper planning to carry out maintenance without requiring load shedding.

And while there may be problems in winter, he says plans are in place to deal with this.