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Nuclear far from a done deal - energy expert

Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, who is next in line to lead the country, told reporters at the World Economic Forum that South Africa can't afford to build a nuclear plant.

FILE: A nuclear power plant. Picture: Freeimages.com

JOHANNESBURG - Deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa's remarks about South Africa not having money for nuclear power may halt plans for now, but some experts say that this depends on decisions taken in the next few months by the new political leadership.

Ramaphosa, who is next in line to lead the country, told reporters at the World Economic Forum that South Africa can't afford to build a nuclear plant.

This differs from President Jacob Zuma's approach, who has pushed to build as many as eight reactors worth around R1 trillion.

Energy expert Chris Yelland had a meeting at the South African Bureau of Standards (SABS) on Monday.

"A representative of the Department of Energy spoke and he indicated that the officials at the DoE are in a state of limbo with the change in political leadership at the ANC and perhaps even a Cabinet reshuffle. Nuclear is far from a done deal."

However, the Coalition Against Nuclear Energy's Mike Kantey says that when it comes to affordability a deal can always be made.

"There've been a few deals around the world - Turkey and also in Egypt - where what they talk about is a build, own and operate model, where the payback is over 35 years at a specific rate. So, money can be found. Our problem with all of this is that it defies the logic of renewable energy."