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New Nuclear Generation Under the Spotlight

April 9, 2021

Department of Mineral Resources and Energy

Policy Decision 8 of the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP2019) provides the basis upon which the mineral resources and energy minister, Gwede Mantashe, has committed to procure 2500MW of new nuclear generation by 2024.

The minister confirmed this in a written reply to a parliamentary question.

The Democratic Alliance’s Kevin Mileham had asked the minister that, in view of the fact that the IRP2019 makes no provision for the procurement of new nuclear generation as indicated on table 5 on page 42 of the gazetted IRP, on what basis has he committed to procure 2500MW of new nuclear generation by 2024 in his Ministerial Performance Agreement.

According to the minister, the policy adjusted decision of an approved IRP2019, Decision 8 states: “Commence preparations for a nuclear build programme to the extent of 2500 MW at a pace and scale that the country can afford because it is a no-regret option in the long term”.

The minister added that preparations leading to the procurement in 2024 have already started.

He added that the preparatory activities include, but are not limited to, design, siting, procurement, construction and commissioning of the nuclear power station beyond 2030.

“Most of the baseload coal fired power plants will be decommissioned beyond 2030 and based on the long lead times for a nuclear programme, starting the process early will yield a no regret option taking into account that nuclear is a clean baseload source of power”, he said.

The minister also pointed out that, in June 2020, the department tested the market by issuing a non-binding Request for Information (RFI) for the 2500 MW of nuclear capacity.

“The process of finalising the RFI assessment is underway and this will culminate to into the implementation strategy, roadmap and procurement framework”, he said.

At the end of last year, the National Energy Regulator (NERSA), in Government Gazette 43926, called for comment on the Ministerial Determination on the procurement of 2500MW new generation capacity from nuclear.

NERSA is required to provide concurrence on the Section 34 determination before procurement can get under way.

NERSA pointed out that all comments received will be taken into consideration when the decision to concur with the Ministerial Determination is made.