Mantashe: Govt open for proposals on plan to procure nuclear power

Parliament’s mineral resources and energy oversight committee was told on Thursday that work on a roadmap for a new nuclear build programme would start soon.

FILE: Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Mineral Resources and Energy minister Gwede Mantashe said the government was open to receiving proposals on its plan to procure 2,500 megawatts of nuclear power.

The Integrated Resource Plan that was released last year (IRP2019) included nuclear as part of the energy mix the country would need, saying it would be procured at a scale and pace the country could afford.

Parliament’s mineral resources and energy oversight committee was told on Thursday that work on a roadmap for a new nuclear build programme would start soon.

Minister Mantashe said the government was looking at small modular reactors to provide the 2,500 megawatts of power provided for in the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan.

Asked whether South Africa can afford it, he said: “Many of the renewables are developed by the private sector because there’s an appetite in the market for them, and that principle applies to nuclear as well.

“Because if a company or a consortium wants to develop modular nuclear reactors, it must come and make a presentation. We can partner with that company as the state – we may even give that company a right to develop a modular nuclear station on a build, operate and transfer basis, which means there may be no immediate call for funding from the state, but the build programme can continue."

Mantashe said the government was going to explore all its options.

“When there is appetite for nuclear in the market, we will go ahead with it.”