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Last modified: 02 Aug 2016
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Kouga first choice for nuclear plant

10 June 2016

National infrastructure projects have the potential to stimulate the economy of the regions where they are located. The impact on local communities, however, tends to depend on the extent to which municipalities are involved in the planning and implementation processes associated with the projects.

With Thyspunt in the Eastern Cape earmarked for the development of a 4000 MW nuclear power station, the provincial office of the South African Local Government Association (Salga) has taken hands with Kouga Municipality to help its leadership and communities prepare for what is set to be one of the biggest-ever energy-generating projects in the country.

The projected cost of the project is R1-trillion.

“We reached out to Salga because we were concerned that the municipality was being excluded from important discussions and decisions regarding the proposed development,” said Kouga Executive Mayor Daphne Kettledas.

“While it is a national project being driven by national roleplayers in order to address national energy demands, it is ultimately Kouga and her people who stand to benefit - or lose - the most should the development get the go-ahead.

“As the local Council, we are very excited that Salga Eastern Cape has agreed to facilitate communication between us and various roleplayers. Through this partnership, we wish to ensure that our communities and businesses benefit optimally from the opportunities and are not hurt by the potential negative impacts of the development.”

Thyspunt is situated between Cape St Francis and Oyster Bay, about 100km from Port Elizabeth in the western half of the Eastern Cape. It is one of three sites that have been identified by Eskom for the possible development of nuclear power stations.

The final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the sites was released for public comment earlier this year. The due date for submissions was 12 May 2016. The report names Thyspunt as the preferred site for the first new nuclear power station to be built in South Africa since Koeberg. The other two sites are Duynefontein and Bantamsklip in the Western Cape, with the latter deemed the least appropriate.

President Jacob Zuma reaffirmed Government’s commitment to its nuclear build programme in the State of the Nation Address in February 2016 and, in response to concerns about the cost involved, gave citizens the assurance that procurement would happen “on a scale and pace that our country can afford”.

Eskom has meanwhile also applied for two licences to build nuclear reactors, as announced by the National Nuclear Regulator at the Nuclear Africa conference in Centurion in March.

According to the final EIR, South Africa’s electricity demand has been exceeding the supply since 2007, prompting the need for “loadshedding” to ensure that the network remains stable. It is anticipated that South Africa will require more than 40 000 MW of new electricity-generating capacity by 2030.

Nuclear power is part of the energy mix recommended in Government’s Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) 2010. The plan outlines various strategies to meet the country’s increasing energy needs and makes provision for 9 600 MW of nuclear generation capacity.

The proposed nuclear power station at Thyspunt will have a capacity of 4 000 MW.