Government hiding nuclear power plant costs: Earthlife Africa

Nuclear critic Earthlife Africa argues that South Africa’s new power plants are another arms deal scandal waiting to happen.


Government hiding nuclear power plant costs: Earthlife Africa

The South African government has done studies on what it would cost to build the planned 6 or 8 nuclear power stations, but it is not releasing the information (Also see: ANC wants to use people’s retirement savings to bail out Eskom).

This is according to nuclear critic and Earthlife Africa project co-ordinator Tristen Taylor, the Sunday Times reported.

Taylor was responding to comments from deputy director general of the Department of Energy, Zizamele Mbambo, who said that it would be premature for government to release figures at this stage, as prices were still being negotiated.

Mbambo’s comments were surprising, Taylor said, adding that government is not releasing the studies because it knows the nuclear power plants are going to cost a lot of money.

Government should release the figure and allow public debate on whether the project was affordable, Taylor said.

Reuters reported on Tuesday (19 May 2015) that the stations would cost between R400 billion and R1 trillion to build.

He also argued that South Africa has yet to come to grips with corruption as a society, especially on major deals like the arms deal.

South Africa’s nuclear deal is bigger than the arms deal, and there are people thinking about how they are going to make money out of it, Taylor was quoted as saying.

Mbambo said that whatever amount is spent on the plants would not affect the taxpayer. In addition to establishing a special purpose vehicle, government is considering a number of other financing options.

These include having the vendor build and own the power plant, and perhaps even operate it, with the option of eventually transferring ownership to the state.

Big nuclear plans

South Africa is set to build 6 nuclear power stations, with Mbambo saying that another two might be added to that number depending on the technology used.

Bidding for the project will begin in July 2015. Contract negotiations with the winning bidder will start in 2016 and be finalised by 2017.

Construction of the first new nuclear plant will commence during 2017, in Thyspunt in the Eastern Cape. It is scheduled to be commissioned in 2023, Mbambo said.

All of the plants will be operational by 2030, and are expected to add 9,600MW of capacity to South Africa’s electrical grid.

The full article is available in the Sunday Times (24 May 2015).

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