#News24Pravin: Nuclear is still part of the plan

Cape Town - Although Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has not allocated funding towards a nuclear build programme in his medium-term budget policy statement (mini budget), he said a nuclear energy plan for South Africa is “not ruled out”. 

Speaking to an audience who attended a live broadcast of News24 Frontline on Thursday, Gordhan said there is intent to move towards a nuclear energy programme in South Africa. “But the question has always been what (energy mix) we really need and how to procure it and if we can afford it. All that is work in progress.” 

Gordhan, who was interviewed by News24’s video editor Jerusha Sukhdeo-Raath and senior Fin24 journalist Matthew le Cordeur, was asked to clarify National Treasury’s position on nuclear energy and the procurement of renewable energy. 

READ: Gordhan confirms Eskom is new lead in nuclear plan

In his mini budget speech delivered on Wednesday, Gordhan confirmed that Eskom would take the lead in the nuclear power initiative and that National Treasury in collaboration with Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown will ensure the scale of the programme has South Africa’s best interests at heart and that the procurement process is transparent and lawful. 

Gordhan on Thursday, though, reiterated that South Africa would continue to do work on procuring renewable energy. This comes after Eskom CEO Brian Molefe previously said renewable energy is increasing the power utility’s cost base and not suitable for base load power generation. 

But Cabinet and Gordhan were at pains to point out that renewable energy procurement is still very much part of South Africa’s energy mix.

READ: Govt sticking to plans on IPP programme 

On Thursday, Gordhan said: “Public officials must be careful how they articulate themselves and give South Africa a consistent message. Ultimately it is about data and the law that will decide the outcome.” 

This utterance could be viewed as a reference to Molefe’s previous assertions that renewable energy is neither affordable, nor reliable and that nuclear is the ideal energy source for base load power generation.

* Visit our Budget Special for all the budget news and in-depth analysis.

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