SA can't afford costly nuclear build programme right now

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba told a briefing ahead of his mini-budget that the sluggish economy and lack of demand for energy means that Eskom has a surplus of electricity.

FILE: Malusi Gigaba. Picture: AFP

PARLIAMENT - Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has made it clear that South Africa cannot afford to embark on a costly nuclear build programme right now, although it remains part of the proposed energy mix.

Gigaba told a briefing ahead of his mini-budget on Wednesday afternoon that the sluggish economy and lack of demand for energy means that Eskom has a surplus of electricity.

In his speech, Gigaba quoted President Jacob Zuma who told Parliament in May that the nuclear build programme would proceed at a pace and scale the country can afford.

In his pre-speech briefing, Gigaba gave more details: “It is not off the agenda, the country at the present moment can’t afford nuclear and the budget also can’t. We have 5,700MW of electricity surplus. That’s bigger than our biggest power station, Medupi, which is the fourth-largest power station in the world and which when fully commissioned will produce 4,800MW.”

Gigaba says the Department of Energy is reviewing the integrated resource plan and nuclear is expected to be part of the proposed energy mix.

But he says a decision will only be taken once the economy has recovered and the country’s energy needs dictate a need for nuclear.

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(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)