In a virtual mineral resources & energy parliamentary committee meeting on May 7, portfolio minister Gwede Mantashe doubled down on the government’s commitment to a new nuclear energy programme and the Grand Inga hydroelectric project. According to the department’s annual performance plan, the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2019 “states that preparations must commence for the nuclear build programme, adding 2,500MW, as this is a no-regret option in the long term”. It goes on to say under the heading “Key Initiatives and Targets” that the department seeks to have “2,500MW nuclear energy procured by 2024”.

But what does the IRP 2019 — the government’s approved and gazetted road map for electricity generation — actually say about nuclear power? Strangely enough, this was exactly the issue that tripped the minister up when the IRP was first released. In the “incorrect” version that was first published, the IRP gave the following as its policy directive on nuclear: “Immediately com...

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