South Africans urged to take politics out of Eskom nuclear debate

The power utility has appealed to citizens to take the politics out of the nuclear debate consider it on its merits.

FILE: Eskom's office at Megawatt Park in Johannesburg. Picture: Reinart Toerien/EWN

CAPE TOWN – Eskom’s Matshela Koko has appealed to South Africans to 'take the politics out' of the nuclear debate and consider it on its merits.

Koko was speaking after the Department of Energy released its long-awaited, revised draft integrated energy and resource plans in Parliament on Tuesday.

The new timeline suggests nuclear will only be needed in 2037, a significant delay.

But Koko says Eskom would nevertheless be issuing, by the end of this year, a request for proposals for the first in a planned fleet of nuclear reactors.

Koko says difficulties in linking renewable power to the grid could mean South Africa will need nuclear by 2025 and building a reactor needs a 10-year lead time.

He wants the heat taken out of the debate.

“Be dispassionate about it. Take the politics out of it and just consider it on its merits.”

But critics say limiting renewable power is an artificial constraint.

The Southern African Faith Institute’s Liz McDaid says, “By constraining the renewables and having almost zero energy efficiency what you’re doing is maybe artificially increasing the demand for energy which then justifies trying to bring on larger power plants earlier, like your nuclear build.”

The draft energy plans are now open for public discussion and are set to be finalised by March next year.

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)