South Africa: Energy minister advocates for renewables

Image: BusinessDay

Following the signing of the 27 independent power producer (IPP) agreements in April — which had been delayed for two years under previous leadership — South African Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe continues to champion renewable energy as a major part of the nation’s energy mix.

Speaking at a conference in Cape Town this week, Radebe affirmed the government’s plan to push renewables and championed successful partnerships with IPPs and the government’s Renewable Energy IPP Procurement Programme.

“To date, we have concluded 91 projects with a capacity of 63,000 MW. Of this, 62 of these projects have combined capacity of 3,800 MW which is connected to the grid,” he said at the conference.

Though he did not include nuclear energy in his speech, Radebe later clarified that nuclear will continue to be a component in South Africa’s energy mix.

“Nuclear is part of our energy mix. In Koeberg we produce energy out of nuclear. How the mix is finalized will depend on the outcome of the Integrated Resource Plan, which will be concluded by August with Cabinet. This is a process that will include the public and stakeholders,” he told Fin24.

In 2016, then-Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson made the decision to have her department acquire nuclear power to generate 9,000 MW of electricity. The controversial deal would introduce six nuclear power plants by 2030 at a reported cost of R1 trillion ($80 billion). The deal raised concerns, was largely challenged by NGOs, and eventually ruled invalid. Since then, nuclear energy procurement has been an area of great uncertainty for the South African government.

Koeberg Nuclear Power Station is South Africa’s only nuclear facility. It supplies 5 percent of national needs and 50 percent of the electricity demand for the Western Cape region.