On 14 June the South African Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy issued a controversial statement initiating a process that could lead to the construction of new nuclear power station. The timing of the release, on a Sunday evening with the country completely focused on the COVID-19 pandemic, suggested a secretive revival of the much maligned Zuma-era nuclear deal. The statement accompanied an official request for information intending to let the ministry “gain insight into the cost of the programme, possible ownership structures, cost recovery, the end user cost and sustainability of the programme”. Interested parties are invited to submit non-binding proposals on how they might build, operate and finance nuclear facilities with a generating capacity of 2500 MW. This is slightly larger than Koeberg, South Africa’s only existing nuclear plant. Nuclear energy has become a decreasingly popular mode of electricity generation, especially since the falling cost of wind and solar power allowed these technologies major inroads into energy markets. Last year the global completion rate of new nuclear plants dropped to four from about 30 per annum in the mid 1980’s. The plants still being built now are typically running well behind schedule and construction costs are much higher than initially projected.
The Conversation 1st July 2020 read more »