Parliamentary Question: DoE: Conference on Nuclear Safety


Statement: Minister of Energy participates in the International Atomic Energy Agency Ministerial Conference on Nuclear Safety in Vienna, Austria

Minister of Energy, Ms Dipuo Peters is currently in Vienna, Austria leading a high level South African delegation to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Ministerial meeting on Nuclear Safety, comprised of senior officials from the Department of Energy (DoE), Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA) and National Nuclear Regulator. The Minister is further supported by the Permanent Representative of RSA at the United Nations in Vienna, Ambassador Xolisa Mabhongo.

The Ministerial Meeting is part of the number of initiatives spearheaded by the IAEA in response to the recent incident at the Fukushima-Daichi Nuclear facility in Japan. Addressing the Plenary Session of the Conference on 20 June, Minister Peters re-iterated the solidarity of South Africa with the people and government of Japan, and also highlighted the participation of Rescue South Africa in the humanitarian efforts in Japan immediately after the disaster.

Minister Peters further highlighted that the incident at Fukushima happened whilst the South African cabinet was engaged in the final decision-making process on the Integrated Resource Plan up to 2030, with nuclear comprising 23% of the projected electricity generation carriers as part of country efforts to diversify the energy mix from its current coal based dependency.

Central to the Minister’s intervention was that the IAEA should continue to play a leadership role in the global response to the Fukushima incident, and that the organisation itself need to strengthen its ability to promote international cooperation and assisting member States, particularly those interested in developing or expanding nuclear power programmes, in the field of nuclear safety.

Said Minister Peters: “We should be cognisant that the accident in Japan has resulted in wide spread concerns about the safety of nuclear power plants. It has raised a question of whether the envisaged nuclear renaissance will ever materialise. Those of us operating nuclear power plants have a responsibility to show that we are committed to a strong safety culture. In this way we can provide assurances to the public on the continued safe use of nuclear energy.

A few weeks ago South Africa hosted the second regional meeting on Energy and Nuclear Power in Africa. At this conference the need for energy to ensure the development of the African continent was uppermost in the discussions. Nuclear Power was regarded as the most feasible for supplying base-load electricity. At the same time there was emphasis on the need to take lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi accident.”

At the national level my government has been carefully taking stock of the implications of the Fukushima accident in order to prepare appropriate interventions. The South African Cabinet recently approved the country’s 20 year plan for electricity generation. Renewable energy features prominently in the Integrated Resource Plan 2010; the goal is of reducing green house emissions. We expect 42% of our new generation capacity to come from renewable sources. 23% or 9600 megawatts will come from nuclear, 15% from coal, using cleaner coal technologies as far as possible and about 6% will come from imported hydro.

Whilst in Vienna, Minister Peters will also participate in the Second Vienna Energy Forum held under the auspices of the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, as well as the Ministerial Meeting on Energy and Green Industry, taking place in parallel to the Forum.

Minister of Sport and Recreation, Mr Fikile Mbalula is Acting Minister of Energy for the period of Minister Peters’ absence from the Republic.