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Treasury puts brakes on nuclear spend

Wednesday, 24 February 2016   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Author: Jan-Jan Joubert
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Author: Jan-Jan Joubert (BDlive)

National Treasury has put the brakes on nuclear spend in addressing the country's energy woes‚ shifting the focus to gas and smaller coal-powered power stations instead.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan also backed Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson in her efforts to have the nuclear deal overseen by the independent power producers' procurement office‚ which falls within her department.

In this‚ Gordhan sided with Joemat-Pettersson and DA MP Gordon Mackay against the preferences of ANC MP and portfolio committee on energy chairman Fikile Majola and ANC MP Tandi Mahambehlala‚ who were disagreeing with Joemat-Pettersson.

Treasury's chief director for state owned entities oversight‚ Avril Halstead‚ said on Wednesday that no more money had been added to the R200 million announced in October last year for research into the feasibility of nuclear development.

Halstead said that the amount to be budgeted for new nuclear build would depend on the findings of the research into its viability.

She said those findings would inform whether South Africa continued with its plans to build nuclear power stations with the ability to provide 9‚600 megawatts to the national grid‚ whether those plans were scaled down and whether they happened at all.

She echoed Joemat-Pettersson's call‚ made on Tuesday to the parliamentary portfolio committee on energy‚ to shift the focus to gas and new coal-powered stations which were smaller than Medupi and Kusile in size‚ to provide both base load and peak time power.

Halstead emphasised that major gas discoveries‚ notably in Mozambique‚ had made gas a much more economically realistic energy source than a few years ago.

Thus‚ gas would be added to the energy mix South Africa was striving for in its efforts not to put all of its eggs in one energy basket.

In his budget speech‚ Gordhan said the independent power producers programme will be extended to include gas and coal power projects over the period ahead.

These programmes would be based on the successes of the independent power producers programme for renewable energy‚ which would shortly bring the total number of new renewable energy projects adding to the national power grid to more than a hundred‚ and which had been hailed as a noteworthy success worldwide.

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