1) South Africa's only nuclear power plant, Koeberg, is capable of generating around 1,800 megawatts (MW) of electricity. The DoE wants to up that figure by a further 9.6 gigawatts (9,600 MW) with a fleet of new power plants.
2) There are concerns that the nuclear procurement deal would be unaffordable and could end up costing more than R1 trillion. For this reason, National Treasury has been reluctant to offer its approval.
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3) There are also major concerns about the potential for corruption. To put things in perspective, the controversial 1999 arms deal was signed in 1999 at a price of R29.9 billion which ballooned with inflation and currency fluctuations to R46.666 billion, while the full cost, including interest on loans, was R59.715 billion, according to what the National Treasury told the Arms Procurement Commission.
4) As with the arms deal, powerful politically-backed companies are involved, like Russia's Rosatom, and a lot can be kept secret in the name of "national security".
5) It appears that Russia is the favoured bidder before procurement has even officially begun. In September 2014 an agreement secretively struck with Russia appeared to favour a Russian bid.
6) Two NGOs — SAFCEI and Earthlife Africa — are taking the Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson to court over her decision to pursue the nuclear new-build programme. They say that a decision of such importance requires public participation and the minister failed to consult.
7) The minister and Eskom have been criticised for failing to take into account the renewable energy revolution, which has seen the cost of renewables come down dramatically in recent years while nuclear has increasingly fallen out of favour worldwide.
8) Recent findings, such as the 2013 Integrated Resource Plan, a CSIR report and a report by the Ministerial Advisory Council on Energy, envision a much reduced or deferred nuclear build, or no nuclear at all in the country's future energy mix. These findings appear to have been largely ignored by government.
9) There are massive vested interests in nuclear and the issue is at the heart of state capture. It is believed to have been one of the key reasons for the removal of Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene in December 2015.
The amaBhungane Centre for Investigative Journalism, an independent non-profit, produced this story. Like it? Be an amaB supporter to help it do more. Sign up for its newsletter to get more.Suggest a correction