New 2.5GW nuclear power station planned for South Africa

South Africa’s energy minister, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, is pushing for approval to build a 2.5-gigawatt (GW) nuclear power plant in a bid to address the country’s ongoing electricity supply issues.

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According to a Sunday Times report, significant progress has been made on the project. A dedicated team is finalizing the procurement structure and securing funding. Minister Ramokgopa, who first announced the plan in December 2023, is hopeful that the National Treasury will give the green light by August. While a specific location hasn’t been finalized, and technical details are still being addressed, the proposed plant would surpass the capacity of Koeberg, South Africa’s sole existing nuclear facility near Cape Town (1.94 GW).

Ramokgopa emphasized the advantages of the new technology: “faster deployment, lower costs, and improved efficiency.” He also acknowledged the need to determine the plant’s operator, though Eskom, the national power utility with experience running Koeberg, appears to be the frontrunner.

Eskom has faced longstanding challenges in providing reliable electricity due to its aging infrastructure, further compounded by mismanagement and corruption. This energy crisis has hampered economic growth, with South Africa’s GDP expanding at a sluggish 0.7% in 2023 – the slowest pace since the pandemic. However, Eskom has reported improved generation performance and lifted rolling blackouts for over 100 days.