Cape Town - No details can be given on the plan to build new nuclear power stations as it is still in its early stages, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said on Tuesday.
"To date no directive has been given on the issue of the nuclear programme," she told reporters at the launch of energy month.
She said the department is in no way uncertain of its role and responsibilities in the build programme and will release information timeously.
The government's integrated resource plan aims to boost electricity base load in South Africa by scaling up the nuclear output to 9.6 gigawatts.
According to the Treasury's 2012 Budget Review, tabled recently by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan
, the target date for achieving this is 2029.
According to the review, the nuclear build project is "in the final stages of consideration before (a) financial proposal can be determined".
The department disclosed on Tuesday that it anticipates the first output of nuclear power in 2023 at 1 600 megawatts.
Peters said no decision has been made on how many nuclear plants are to be built. She also denied the first plant would be built at Thyspunt in the Eastern Cape.
"An environmental impact assessment is currently under way in Thyspunt. We're not in a position to say that it has been decided."
As a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the country will use a standard milestone approach in its nuclear programme decision-making.
The first milestone is a decision by government to commit to a nuclear programme. A feasibility study will be released at this point.
The second milestone is an invitation for bids.
The third milestone is the commissioning of the power plants.
A presentation on Tuesday showed that various risks of a nuclear programme will be considered, including that of nuclear liability, electricity market conditions, and plant operation performance.
The department will take lessons about building high technology plants from countries like South Korea, China and Japan.