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Mahlobo wants new energy resource plan to go before Cabinet soon

The Energy Minister has hinted that the revised integrated resource plan will require less nuclear power in the mix than the 9.6 GW it initially called for.

FILE: Minister of Energy David Mahlobo. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - Energy Minister David Mahlobo says he wants to put the revised Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) to go before Cabinet as soon as possible.

The plan maps out the energy mix the country is likely to need in the future.

It includes the planned 9,600 MW of nuclear power.

Mahlobo is briefing Parliament’s energy committee and has hinted that the revised integrated resource plan will require less nuclear power in the mix than the 9.6 GW it initially called for.

But he says more nuclear power will definitely form part of the country’s energy mix.

“And it would be included, but it’s not about whether it will be 9.6 because we need to revise them downwards.”

Mahlobo says there was extensive consultation on the IRP between last December and March this year, but that his department has taken too long to integrate public input into the plan.

Mahlobo says he wants the plan updated as soon as possible so he can put it before Cabinet for approval.

He also says he is planning an energy indaba for early next month.

Mahlobo was also asked about reported meetings with Russian delegations and their possible links to the nuclear procurement process.

Opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) have asked him whether he wants the IRP approved ahead of the African National Congress’s elective conference in December because of the possible leadership changes that might usher in.

Mahlobo told the committee nuclear power is cheaper than coal and is needed not only for baseload supply but because the country has to reduce its carbon emissions by 2030.

But opposition MPs have challenged Mahlobo, with the Democratic Alliance’s Gordon Mackay saying Mahlobo should know the nuclear build programme will drive costs up.

“How are you telling us energy from nuclear is sustainable and cheap if this information is not readily available to be made public and provided to this committee? So again, we’re shrouded in mystery and secrecy. The minister tells us it’s all going to be done affordably and (to scale) blah blah but we’ve got no new information today.”

Mackay's party colleague Gavin Davis wanted to know if Mahlobo and President Jacob Zuma met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in August 2014 and if nuclear procurement was discussed and details of a reported meeting between Mahlobo and a Russian delegation just ahead of the cabinet reshuffle that saw him become energy minister.

Davis also wanted to know if Mahlobo knows of anyone in government receiving money related to the nuclear deal.