Cape Town – The R300bn allocated in the Budget for building new nuclear power plants is not the final amount for the project, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said on Tuesday.
“I think that the amount of money that has been allocated… for the nuclear build is not a thumb-suck, and we don’t actually think that is the end amount, but we believe that it is the beginning,” she said.
Responding via video-link to questions posed during a media briefing in Cape Town, she declined to give further information on the specifications or tenders for the nuclear plants.
“I don’t want to pre-empt the work of [the government's] nuclear energy co-ordinating committee,” Peters said.
The media would be kept informed once this information was available.
The government’s integrated resource plan aims to boost electricity base load in South Africa by scaling up the nuclear output to 9.6GW.
According to the Treasury’s 2012 Budget Review, tabled last week by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, the target date for achieving this is 2029.
According to the review, the nuclear build project is “in the final stages of consideration before [a] financial proposal can be determined”.
In statement on Tuesday, the DA called for a parliamentary debate on nuclear-build funding.
“I have today written to the Speaker of Parliament to call for an urgent debate on government’s intended nuclear fleet build programme,” said Democratic Alliance energy spokesperson Lance Greyling.
Parliament had to have the opportunity to “reverse the silence” on this matter.
“Strangely, neither President [Jacob Zuma] nor the minister of finance saw fit to mention the largest-ever procurement in South African history in the state-of-the-nation address or the Budget speech.
“This is despite a surreptitious R300bn allocation appearing in the 2012 Budget Review,” he said.
Greyling said there had also been no opportunity for the public to scrutinise a nuclear programme.
“Not only will it cost nearly a third of our annual budget, but there are serious safety and environmental concerns to consider.”
The DA would not allow government’s nuclear plans to be executed under a “cloud of secrecy”, he said.
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