SA Proposes African Nuclear Power Plan


"Energy Minister Dipuo Peters emphasized uranium as a 'safe, reliable and economically viable' resource."

Business Report, Donwald Pressly

The South African government has bucked the world trend of reticence over continued investment in nuclear power by backing a shared continental approach to electricity generation projects, including nuclear power.

At a conference on nuclear power in Africa, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters emphasized that it was "important to note that nuclear and renewable energy will have a significant contribution in (South Africa's) anticipated generation mix."

In stark contrast to Germany, which announced yesterday an about-turn on its nuclear policy and the ultimate abandoning of its nuclear capacity, Peters said while nuclear power was "not a quick-fix solution;" it was a long-term method to address the energy crisis "and the climate change challenge."

Chancellor Angela Merkel, under electoral flak since pressing ahead with nuclear power plans after the Fukushima plant in Japan exploded, reversed her stance. She referred yesterday to wanting future power "to be safe, reliable and economically viable."

Peters, who last week refused to be drawn on the future policy on shale gas fracturing in the Karoo, stuck to her guns, describing South Africa's power plant as "a balanced" one that sought "to responsibly use energy sources available to us including gas, biomass, nuclear, coal and imports."

Security of supply of nuclear fuel as the continent "is slowly becoming nuclear energized" was of key importance, she said. "African countries. . .are rich in uranium."

This also had an important political dimension, the minister argued. "This gives the African states the confidence that they can rely on Africa for their uranium supplies. This mineral must also benefit Africans through job creation."

Partnership with all stakeholders in this value chain, including trade unions involved in mining of energy minerals, was essential, Peters said.

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