The South African government on Monday released a draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) that abandons a previous deal to build costly nuclear plants by 2030.
The draft plan confirms that the deal to build nuclear plants has now been shelved in favour of cheaper, cleaner sources of energy like wind, solar, gas and hydro-power.
The government under former president Jacob Zuma had been working on a deal, allegedly with Russia, to build nuclear reactors at a cost of one trillion rand (about 70 billion U.S. dollars).
That deal would provide for 9,600 megawatts (MW) of nuclear power as part of the energy landscape by 2030.
The opposition and environmental groups strongly oppose the deal which they say is unaffordable and would entail corruption.
The IRP, released by Energy Minister Jeff Radebe, includes the following new additional capacity by 2030: 1,000 MW from coal, 2,500 MW from hydro-power, 5,670 MW from solar power, 8,100 MW from wind, and 8,100 MW from gas.
“This approach… provides the necessary policy certainty while creating the space for all of us to engage in detail on the impending energy transition and the options available to us as South Africa,” Radebe said.
The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomed the policy shift.
“The fact of the matter is that we never needed new nuclear plants, and we didn’t have the money to build them.
“On this score, the new draft IRP is a substantial improvement on the old one,” the DA said.
“We are moving towards cleaner, renewable energy and away from the corrupt nuclear deal,” the party said. “This is something to be welcomed.”
The government invited the public to put their input into the draft IRP in a 60-day period.
“We urge you not to wait for the 60 days but to provide us your written comments and proposals with supporting data or evidence where possible as soon as you have them ready to help minimize the time to finalize the IRP and therefore create policy certainty,” Radebe said.