Production Koeberg Power Station generates nuclear energy. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Production Koeberg Power Station generates nuclear energy. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

There was a revealing confirmation last week of just how important the infamous nuclear deal was to former president Jacob Zuma. For years, insiders had tittered that the contracts around the mooted R1-trillion nuclear deal were a central motivator for many of the baffling actions taken by Zuma.

Last week, during the Zondo state capture inquiry, former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas described how his boss, finance minister Nhlanhla Nene, had been fired because he’d refused to sign off on the nuclear deal. Clearly, Nene had been the obstacle to the cavalcade of eager Russians who visited Zuma, popping their champagne corks in expectation of gargantuan contracts.

So in this context, the news that SA has rejected new nuclear capacity in favour of cleaner, renewable energy is just another welcome symbolic line that has been drawn under the Zuma years.

The new Integrated Resource Plan says that renewable energy should make up 26% of SA’s power. By 2030, wind power should make up 15% of the allocation, then solar (10%) and gas (16%).

Though there is still some reliance on coal, this new resources plan is quite a radical departure from the instincts of Zuma’s energy ministers. It’s a welcome vindication for those who questioned the hocus-pocus maths that was hauled out during Zuma’s tenure to justify nuclear.

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