New power plants come at high price

Marcia Klein

Marcia Klein

Government's plan to include nuclear and renewable sources in the energy mix could push electricity bills even higher than currently foreseen, a senior Eskom official said yesterday.

The cabinet has formally committed the country to build conventional and Pebble Bed nuclear power stations.

In his budget address to Parliament yesterday, Public Enterprise Minister Alec Erwin said South Africa had to double its generating capacity over the next 20 years but also reduce carbon emissions, "which means that we have to diversify our primary energy sources away from coal".

Eskom's Andrew Etzinger said yesterday that between now and 2024, South Africa needed to double the price of electricity to pay for capital expenditure and input costs. But if the country also opted for nuclear and renewable energy options, this would put pressure on costs and prices would need to increase more than threefold.

Etzinger was cautiously optimistic about winter, but said South Africa needed a mild weather and an ongoing reduction in demand for electricity to see the season out without load shedding.