Mantashe: Nuclear will play 'bigger role' in clean energy initiatives

  • Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe says that nuclear power will play a vital role in the country's energy mix.
  • Mantashe said that nuclear would also be a key support of clean energy initiatives.
  • The country has commenced consultations with suppliers of nuclear power reactors.

Nuclear is the "technology of the future" and it will continue to play a "vital role" in South Africa's energy mix, said Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe.

The minister, on Monday, was speaking at the 64th regular session International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) where he relayed that government is still bullish about including nuclear power in the country's energy mix – and has started consultations with suppliers of nuclear power reactors to provide information scheduling, costing and possible ownership models.

This comes after the department issued a Request for Information for 2500 MW in June, Fin24 previously reported.

Mantashe also said that nuclear power would support efforts towards clean energy. "In addition to energy security, there is a bigger role for nuclear in clean energy initiatives, to transition us from high to low carbon emissions, while expanding our power sources at the same time.

"We need to contest the space in the energy debate, for nuclear as a clean energy technology. Scientific evidence is available to support our position," he added.

South Africa also pledged €234 642 (about R4.6 million) towards IAEA's technical cooperation fund, for 2021. The fund includes voluntary contributions from member states, to implement national, regional and interregional technical cooperation projects proposed by member states and which are approved by its board of governors. Mantashe said that the programme, with the assistance of the IAEA, has enabled the launch of four new national Technical Cooperation projects in the areas of agriculture, health, safety.

Mantashe thanked the agency for supporting efforts to extend the operational life of Koeberg nuclear power station by another 20 years.

The country has embarked on a project to replace and upgrade its aging nuclear research reactor – SAFARI-1. A replacement is to be developed by 2030.

So far the project initiation report - which recommends that SAFARI-1 be replaced with a multi-purpose reactor - has been approved and the project is at the pre-feasibility stage.

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