At least R200m has been set aside for the preparatory work of including nuclear energy in the country’s energy mix, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene said.

Speaking to reporters ahead of his tabling of the 2015 Medium Term Policy Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) last week, the Minister said South Africa has made good progress in resolving its energy challenge.

“In the document we speak about R200m set aside. We’re not just looking at nuclear, we’re looking at the entire energy mix and nuclear is part of that energy mix and R200 million has been set aside to support the preparatory work that has been done.

“Ultimately what we would want to see is a situation where we are able to address our energy challenge in totality,” said the Minister, adding that National Treasury is working together with the Department on Energy regarding this.

South Africa has made good progress in working towards resolving the energy challenge that it faces.

“The first unit of Medupi has come on stream, the IPP [Independent Power Producer] programme is in full flight. We agree that more still needs to be done to ensure that we have adequate and reliable supply of power in order to power a modern economy like ours,” said the Minister.

In August 2015, the first unit of Eskom’s Medupi power station began operating, adding 800 MW of energy to the national grid. Government has stabilised Eskom’s financial position with a R23bn equity investment financed from the sale of Vodacom shares.

“The state has built partnerships with the private sector to address the electricity-supply gap, making additional capacity available through the renewable energy programme. This initiative is being extended to include investment in base-load coal generation plants,” noted the MTBPS.

In addition government is revising its integrated resource plan, which maps out the country’s future energy mix, including options for renewables, coal, gas and nuclear power.

Minister Nene said that National Treasury is working with the Department of Energy to assess proposals and financing options for building additional nuclear power capacity.