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Govt's gas push for electricity shocks Necsa

Nov 22 2016 18:59

Cape Town - The state-owned South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) was caught unawares by the Department of Energy's (DoE's) new energy plan proposal, which delays the nuclear plant roll-out to start in 2037 in its base case assumptions.

The latest draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) was announced on Tuesday and will be released for public comment on Friday November 25.   

DOWNLOAD: The IRP DOE presentation

The draft plan aims for nuclear power to be increased by 1 359 MW in 2037 and 20 385 MW by 2050. Previously, the country was aiming to add 9.6 GW of new nuclear power by 2030.

"Gas and renewables form the biggest chunk of installed capacity by 2050," the DOE said. "There is significant reduction in installed capacity from coal."

However, it noted that although installed capacity from coal has reduced significantly, coal and nuclear contribute the most to the volume of (energy mix) energy supplied by 2050.

Necsa chairperson Kelvin Kemm said in a statement the new proposed energy plan is a complete surprise.

“The energy discussion document of the DOE which proposes a major delay in the introduction of nuclear power has come as a complete surprise to Necsa. At no stage were we consulted by the DOE on this proposal.”

Necsa said vast amounts of gas would have to be imported since it is a commodity which South Africa does not have. There is also no explanation as to where the giant gas power stations would be built and how gas would be transported to them, it added.

Necsa CEO Phumzile Tshelane said: “Nuclear power is so clearly the way to go that the DOE proposals are surprising to say the least. I can’t see the logic in their ideas.”

Kemm noted that some strange assumptions appear to be made by the DOE in what he termed the surprising proposal.  

"Quite frankly, I cannot take it seriously. I am extremely disappointed that the DOE did not see fit to consult Necsa.”

Necsa said one of the important factors in expanding South Africa's nuclear power production capacity is to be able to place power generation in the Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Northern Cape.  

The government-owned company argued that currently, far too much of South Africa’s electricity is produced only in the far north east of the country, which is strategically unwise. All South Africa’s coal is situated in the far north east.

Despite the government's delay in long-term nuclear power expansion plans, Tshelane said Necsa has been already been preparing for the major nuclear build and will continue to do so.  

"We are making good progress and I am pleased at the way in which our plans and actions have been unfolding.”

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necsa  |  kelvin kemm  |  electricity  |  energy  |  nuclear  |  nuclear programme

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