JOHANNESBURG: South Africa, a country beset by frequent power outages, will have to wait a little longer before pressing ahead with a highly contentious and very costly expansion of its ageing nuclear power fleet.
Exactly how long remains unclear.
Last week was supposed to mark a key step forward in plans formulated back in 2010, but at the 11th hour the government balked.
Early last month, the energy ministry announced it would finally issue a tender for the construction of between six and eight power stations with a combined capacity of 9,600 megawatts on Friday, September 30.
But on Thursday, the ministry pulled the plug, announcing the procurement process had been postponed to allow for further consultations.
But it reiterated its commitment to a program the government says is essential to meeting rising demand for electricity.
Five years after the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima plant in Japan, South Africa’s project, coupled with the green light given the Hinkley Point plant in Britain, had been set to consolidate a global resumption of nuclear energy development.
In a continent where two thirds of the population lack electricity, South Africa is the only country with a civilian nuclear industry, with two reactors in service for the past 30 years.
Polluting coal-fired power stations generates Ninety percent of electricity in South Africa.