JOHANNESBURG- South Africa will proceed with plans to expand nuclear power generation but coal will remain the main energy source, Energy Minister David Mahlobo said on Thursday.
South Africa’s nuclear plans are shrouded in controversy, with local activists and the media raising concerns about transparency and costs as well as safety and environmental risks.
Meanwhile, anti-nuclear protesters have gathered outside the energy indaba in Midrand, where President Jacob Zuma addressed delegates.
They called on the government to invest in clean energy sources.
Several civil society groups say they were not included in the hastily convened conference.
“There hasn’t been a public debate and discussion with ordinary people,” said Pooven Moodley from the Campaign for a Just Energy Future.
“That’s parliament’s role but also the president to make decisions in the interest of the country and not just a few people who may be benefitting from this major deal.”
Neither Zuma nor Mahlobo made reference to the finalisation of the Integrated Resource Plan for electricity.
The IRP is the country’s roadmap for electricity planning.
here has been conversation among interested parties about which energy sources – coal‚ nuclear or renewables – the country should adopt.
“We are pursuing our energy security master plan,” Zuma said.
“We are looking at an energy mix that includes coal, solar, wind, hydro, gas, and nuclear energy.”
But activists say public and private investments should be directed only towards clean energy sources.
“Wind and solar are moving very fast. Wind has gone from use turbines to tubes that goes round and round and generates more power than the big ones do,” said Earthlife Africa’s Judith Taylor.
“A lot of technology and research go into improving those things. Where we are promised better coal, better nuclear, it hasn’t moved.”
Government has called for accelerated transformation in the ownership and control of energy sector businesses.