South Africa Nuclear Power Plants to yield 2,500 MW amidst energy crisis

South Africa is planning to build new nuclear power plants in a bid to address its severe electricity crisis. The first units are expected to be operational by 2032 or 2033, according to the Department of Energy.

This move comes as the country faces crippling power cuts, exceeding the levels experienced in prior years. The South Africa energy crisis primarily stems from the frequent breakdowns of Eskom’s aging coal-fired plants. With public outrage mounting and elections looming, President Ramaphosa appointed a new Electricity Minister to manage the government’s response. Electricity Minister, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has announced that South Africa will initiate a procurement process for an additional 2,500 megawatts (MW) of nuclear power to tackle blackouts that have crippled the nation.

South Africa’s sole existing nuclear facility, the Koeberg plant near Cape Town, is currently undergoing maintenance and only partially operational. Eskom is seeking to extend the operating licenses for both units, with a decision expected in July 2024. The first of the new units will likely be operational in 2032 or 2033. One of the two units at South Africa’s only nuclear power facility, the 1,860-megawatt Koeberg plant near Cape Town, underwent maintenance for nearly a year until November.

To tackle the energy crisis, South Africa has implemented several measures, including:

  • Easing regulations for private sector energy production: This aims to incentivize investment in renewable energy sources and reduce reliance on Eskom solving the energy crisis.
  • Securing international funding: The World Bank has approved $497 million for decommissioning a coal plant and has engaged in discussions about a possible $1 billion loan to support the energy sector revamp. Additionally, the country received $676 million in grants from wealthy nations to transition to green energy.

Despite these efforts, South Africa’s persistent energy crisis has had significant impact on its economy, causing daily losses of $51 million and negatively affecting businesses like Multichoice. The construction of new nuclear power plants represents a long-term strategy to address the energy deficit and promote economic stability.

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