South Africa has not struck a deal so far with any country on nuclear expansion but its immediate focus was to build more renewable power projects, the energy minister said on Monday.
The government of Africa’s most advanced economy, which is battling an energy crunch, said in May it will procure a nuclear fleet to generate 9,600 megawatts of power this year, estimated by analysts to cost as much as $100 billion.
“Once that model is complete, we will decide on time-frames,” she said.
The government was due to release its bid requirements by end July, but this has been delayed.
Concern is mounting that agreements to build the nuclear power plants that could be the most expensive procurement in the country’s history will be made behind closed doors, without the necessary public scrutiny.
“Once we have taken a decision as a government and cabinet, we will communicate. There is no secrecy,” Joemat-Petterson said.
President Jacob Zuma’s government signed agreements with France, Russia, China, South Korea and energy officials said they were speaking to Japan, Canada and the United States about possible co-operation.
The process appears to be delayed following concerns that the Treasury is not included in the procurement discussions, despite its budgetary implications.
“That is why we went ahead in announcing the additional acquisition of renewable energy, that’s why the renewable energy programme is so important, that is why gas is so important. It’s our immediate solution to our current challenges,” she said.
However, new renewable energy projects will find it hard to connect to the grid, an official said, saying that the department was working with power utility Eskom to improve access for new projects.