South Africa’s government has slowed its nuclear power expansion plans with a new timeline setting the first additional nuclear power plant coming on stream in 2037, according to a draft energy paper. State energy utility, Eskom, however, insists that the country should stick to its original plan of bringing a new plant online by 2025, Reuters reported.
A draft blueprint of the government’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) also said that it now aimed to increase nuclear power output by merely 1,359 MW by 2037, compared with a previous target of adding 9,600 MW of new nuclear power by 2030, according to Bloomberg. The country further plans to add 20,385 MW of nuclear energy to the national grid by 2050.
Energy analysts have said the 9,600 MW plan was ambitious for the country on timescale and unnecessary, while opponents of President, Jacob Zuma, raised concerns about a lack of transparency in deals which could cost up to $80b.
While President has championed the nuclear program, Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, has cautioned that the country may be unable to afford new reactors at a time when the economy is barely growing and the budget deficit needs to be curbed to fend off a junk credit rating.
South Africa has the continent’s only nuclear power station and is seeking to expand its nuclear, wind, solar, and coal power capacity in the coming decades as electricity output barely meets demand.