Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has made clear that government remains committed to a nuclear rollout.
It just won’t do it yet because there is a surplus of power – and because there is no cash.
He was speaking at a briefing as he prepared to deliver his mini-budget speech.
The Minister explained that “nuclear remains part of our energy needs. We expect nuclear will remain part of the energy mix.”
However, nothing is on the current agenda “because the country and the budget can’t afford it.”
He said that the country’s current power generation capacity surplus is 5 700mw of electricity – bigger that SA’s largest power station at Medupi, at 4 800mw.
Until the economy starts growing faster, there will not be the demand for extra power from nuclear.
When the economy is better performing “we will need (nuclear) baseload then”.
There is deep suspicion that President Jacob Zuma is trying to rush the country into a nuclear deal, to favour Moscow.
Gigaba appeared to be shooting down reports that he has ruled out nuclear power as an option, making clear that once it can be afforded, it will be an integral part of the future energy mix.
He was also asked about new taxes, but was vague, saying details must await his February full budget speech.
“I may feel we need new taxes – but where are they coming from?”