South Africa’s Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson on Wednesday suggested the country had no alternative but to invest in nuclear energy as it would save the country using scarce water resources.

“We have to do nuclear because we do not have sufficient fresh water,” Joemat-Pettersson told MPs during the debate on President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation Address.

The minister said while Koeberg, the country’s only nuclear power plant, used 22 billion litres of desalinated sea water a year, coal-fired power stations made use of fresh water.

“Medupi power station will use 17 billion litres of fresh water a year…which we will all be looking for because this drought is not going to stop tomorrow,” said Joemat-Pettersson.

“We are going to need fresh water…[or] our future generation will be without fresh water. We will threaten food security.”

The minister did not expand on the nuclear plans which President Jacob Zuma during his State of the Nation Address said would only be procured at a pace which the country could afford.