South Africa’s energy regulator said it would not take a decision yesterday on whether to support a government proposal to procure 2,500 megawatts (MW) of additional nuclear capacity, after confusion over the agenda for a meeting of one of its sub-committees.
The agenda, posted on Nersa’s Twitter account on Monday, appeared to show such a decision could be taken at a meeting of the electricity sub-committee on Wednesday.
But Nersa said the sub-committee would only be asked to approve a public consultation process for the proposed nuclear procurement, not whether the procurement itself should go ahead.
“Nersa must follow due regulatory processes which include public participation before making a decision to concur,” Nersa said in an emailed response to questions from Reuters.
The regulator said it had received a draft proposal on the new nuclear procurement from the energy minister in August.
Africa’s most industrialised economy regularly experiences electricity outages because of faults at state utility Eskom’s coal-fired power station fleet.
But civil society groups and economists are opposed to the procurement of more nuclear, seeing it as a costly option at a time public finances are hugely stretched.
Three years ago, activists blocked a massive 9,600 MW nuclear expansion project under former President Jacob Zuma that some believed was a conduit for corruption. Zuma denied the project was corrupt.
But this year, the energy ministry said it wanted to develop a plan for a smaller-scale procurement.
It then solicited information from nuclear vendors including how much such a procurement could cost.