December 7, 2017 / 4:58 PM / in 10 days

South Africa to scale down nuclear expansion plan

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa plans to push ahead with its nuclear expansion plan but will now do so at a slower pace because there has been a fall in demand for electricity owing to a struggling economy, energy minister David Mahlobo said on Thursday.

David Mahlobo, South Africa's Minister of Energy, speaks during the Energy Indaba conference in Midrand, South Africa December 7, 2017. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

South Africa has the continent’s only nuclear power station and is seeking to expand its nuclear, wind, solar and coal power capacity in the coming decades.

Energy analysts have said the 9,600 MW plan was ambitious on timescale and unnecessary, while opponents of President Jacob Zuma raised concerns about a lack of transparency in deals which could cost tens of billions of dollars.

Mahlobo did not disclose how much Africa’s most industrialised nation would aim to add to its nuclear fleet.

“The economy is not in good shape. We are all cognisant, that’s why we chose a mantra: pace, scale, affordability and environmental responsiveness,” he told reporters.

“What is changing is the scale, the volumes. We will no longer do 9.6, when you talk about nuclear. It has come down.”

Later asked by Reuters how much additional nuclear power South Africa wanted to build, Mahlobo said he would say next year. “Next year is for implementation.”

He said South Africa wanted to increase share of its power that comes from nuclear to 20 percent from 5 percent at present, without giving a timeframe.

Reporting by Alexander Winning; Writing by James Macharia

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