Mantashe: Inclusion of nuclear power in IRP has nothing to do with Russia

Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe said coal would continue to play a significant role in electricity generation, but new investments would be directed towards more efficient technologies.

Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe. Picture: Nthakoana Ngatane/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Gwede Mantashe said coal would continue to play a significant role in electricity generation, but new investments would be directed towards more efficient technologies.

Mantashe on Friday presented the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which was approved by Cabinet this week. He said while the country would continue to generate electricity from coal, nuclear, wind and hydropower would increasingly form part of the new energy mix going into 2030.

The last IRP was passed in 2010 and Mantashe said that since then new generation had gone up by 18,000 megawatts. He said the new mix would still use coal.

“Coal will continue to play a significant role in electricity generation as the country has resources in abundance. New investment will be directed towards more efficient coal technologies,” Mantashe said.

Mantashe said nuclear power formed part of the energy mix.

“It is a globally accepted fact that nuclear as a clean source of energy can contribute significantly to the reduction of emissions,” he said.

The minister said the energy sector contributed 80% towards the country’s total greenhouse gas emissions, but as a signatory to the Paris Agreement on climate change, South Africa was committed to reducing emissions.

NUCLEAR ENERGY

Mantashe said the inclusion of nuclear power in the IRP had nothing to do with Russia.

He warned skeptics not to associate this with the deal that the country was expected to enter with Russia during former President Jacob Zuma’s tenure.

Mantashe said South Africa was joining the global move towards development of smaller modular nuclear reactors. He said the life of the Koeberg nuclear power station would be extended by 20 years.

“Eskom is the owner of Koeberg. There is capacity to extend that life to 2024. We think it is advisable to do so, we are not acquiring new capacity but extending the current capacity,” he said.

But, Mantashe took exception to suggestions that Russia would be involved.

“If you say whether we are getting advice from Russia, you are being cynical because we are not talking about the previous. We are talking about acquiring nuclear at a pace and cost that the country can afford,” Mantashe said.