25 March 2023 | 02:59 AM

9 things you need to know about the nuclear deal

Key Takeaways

  1.  South Africa’s only nuclear power plant, Koeberg, is capable of generating around 1,800 megawatts (MW) of electricity.
    The DoE wants to up that figure by a further 9.6 gigawatts (9,600 MW) with a fleet of new power plants.
  2. There are concerns that the nuclear procurement deal would be unaffordable and could end up costing more than R1 trillion. For this reason, National Treasury has been reluctant to offer its approval.
  3. There are also major concerns about the potential for corruption. To put things in perspective, the price of the controversial 1999 arms deal was R46.666 billion and the full cost, including interest on loans, was R59.715 billion, according to what the National Treasury told the Arms Procurement Commission.
  4. As with the arms deal, powerful politically-backed companies are involved, like Russia’s Rosatom, and a lot can be kept secret in the name of “national security”.
  5. It appears that Russia is the favoured bidder before procurement has even officially begun. In September 2014 an agreement secretively struck with Russia appeared to favour a Russian bid.
  6. Two NGOs — SAFCEI and Earthlife Africa — are taking the Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson to court over her decision to pursue the nuclear new-build programme.
    They say that a decision of such importance requires public participation and the minister failed to consult.
  7. The minister and Eskom have been criticised for failing to take into account the renewable energy revolution, which has seen the cost of renewables come down dramatically in recent years while nuclear has increasingly fallen out of favour worldwide.
  8. Recent findings, such as the 2013 Integrated Resource Plan, a CSIR report and a report by the Ministerial Advisory Council on Energy, envision a much reduced or deferred nuclear build, or no nuclear at all in the country’s future energy mix.
    These findings appear to have been largely ignored by government.
  9. There are massive vested interests in nuclear and the issue is at the heart of state capture. It is believed to have been one of the key reasons for the removal of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene in December 2015.

Listen to a four-part podcast series, Nuclear SA, via Sound Africa

Court documents

  • Read the most recent court documents here.
  • Read older court documents here.

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Aisha Abdool Karim

Aisha is a freelance science and health reporter. She is joining the amaB team to work on a project about water and sanitation. Aisha’s passion for long-form narrative and investigative journalism was sparked while doing her master’s degree at Columbia University in New York. After graduating in 2018, she returned to South Africa and began working as a general beat reporter for the Daily Maverick. Aisha joined the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism in 2020 to focus on science reporting. During her time there, she covered the COVID-19 pandemic extensively — from fact-checking harmful medical misinformation to unpacking the science behind vaccine development. Aisha’s special interests include analysing health systems and in-depth coverage of public health issues and infectious diseases. She also loves spreadsheets and digging through data.

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