South Africa’s energy regulator backs new nuclear generation

South Africa’s energy regulator on Thursday backed a long-term government plan to build new nuclear power units, a move that could help to shift the country away from coal and into less carbon-intensive means of generating electricity.

Africa’s most industrialised economy has the continent’s only operating nuclear plant, a 1,900 megawatt (MW) facility outside Cape Town that was built under apartheid.

Nuclear is dwarfed by coal, which produces more than 80% of South Africa’s power, making it the continent’s biggest greenhouse gas emitter. Coal-fired capacity was 37,000 MW last year, whereas utility-scale solar and wind, which like nuclear don’t pump CO2 into the air, stood at more than 4,000 MW.

The government has talked about adding more nuclear reactors for years, but analysts are sceptical they will be built given the high cost involved.

In 2018, the government abandoned a massive 9,600 MW nuclear expansion project championed by former president Jacob Zuma that was tainted by corruption allegations, but a year later it resuscitated the project on a smaller scale.

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Source: SweetCrudeReports

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