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SA targets more renewable power, nuclear expansion to be 'corruption free'

SA hopes to install 9,600 megawatts of nuclear power in the next 15 years to address electricity shortages.

Eskom’s Hendrina Power Station in Mpumalanga. Picture: eskom.co.za.

CAPE TOWN - South Africa will have connected 7,000 megawatts (MW) of renewable power to its grid by mid this year, the energy minister said on Wednesday, and reiterated that a planned nuclear expansion would be "corruption free".

Africa's most industrialised country has turned to solar and wind power to plug electricity shortages and still plans to go ahead with its nuclear expansion plan, Tina Joemat-Pettersson told parliament.

She said the nuclear expansion would be "corruption free", following criticism by opposition parties on whether the project was affordable in a country whose economic growth has stagnated and if the tender process would be above board.

South Africa hopes to install 9,600 megawatts of nuclear power in the next 15 years to address chronic electricity shortages but the cost of the project estimated at about $100 billion has raised budgetary concerns.

"We will ensure that the process is above board and free of any potential for corruption," Joemat-Pettersson said.

The department of energy would issue a request for proposal to confirm market appetite for the fleet of nuclear plants and help secure the necessary commercial and financial information for government to make a final decision, she said.

"We will only implement what our country can afford," Joemat-Pettersson said.

South Africa's weak growth forecasts has slumped to below 1 percent for 2016 as a global commodity slump drags on and rising inflation rates curb domestic spending.

Joemat-Pettersson said the country expected to announce the preferred bids for an additional 1,800 MW in the second quarter of this year, as the fourth round of its independent renewable program reaches closure.

"We remain on track to meet our national commitment to transition to a low carbon economy with the target of 17,800 MW of renewable energy power by 2030," she said.