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SA still on nuclear train, energy minister tells Russian audience

Jun 21 2017 16:29
Yolandi Groenewald

Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi at the AtomExpo nuclear conference in Moscow.

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Johannesburg - The recession has forced South Africa to review its nuclear plans, Energy Minister Mmamoloko
Kubayi said on Wednesday in Moscow. But she emphasised that the government remains committed to ensuring energy security for the country through the roll-out of the nuclear new build programme as an integral part of the energy mix.

Reuters reported however that it is too early to say when the procurement process would restart. In March the Western Cape High Court set aside the nuclear agreements government signed with vendor countries including Russia, declaring them unlawful and unconstitutional.

Earthlife Africa and the South African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute won the case after challenging the government’s decision to procure 9.6 MW of nuclear energy.

Kubayi is heading a South African delegation at the AtomExpo nuclear conference. The minister said her department is focused on providing reliable and sustainable electricity supply while reducing South Africa carbon emissions, and that nuclear will play a crucial role in getting the mix right.

The minister used the conference as an opportunity to hold bilateral meetings with her Russian counterpart, Alexander Novak. Her spokesperson Nomvula Khalo said in a statement the two ministers discussed various options in the nuclear and energy space ”within the context of the Energy Cooperation Agreement”.

She also met with Alexey Likhachev, the director general of Russian state-owned nuclear company Rosatom, with the two parties agreeing that technical teams will initiate discussions on cooperation.

READ: Rosatom remains upbeat about nuclear after Eskom cans RFI

Khalo said Kubayi participated in commissions and held bilateral talks with her counterparts, who included a delegation from Ghana.

The energy department said South Africa has consistently attended the AtomExpo because of its existing nuclear programme, and to gain experience in preparation for the expansion of the nuclear new build programme. The conference also gave the South Africans valuable insight into implementation of the Paris Agreement, Khalo said.

Kubayi said her department is committed to “openness, transparency as well as engaging all spheres of government” in driving the proposed new nuclear project.

“It is critical to recognise that the nuclear new build programme will enable the country to create jobs, develop skills, create industries; more critically, we encourage the young people and women to participate in the energy sector,” she said.

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mmamoloko kubayi  |  russia  |  energy  |  nuclear


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