South Africa should consider all energy sources available in its future energy plans, says Energy Minister Jeff Radebe.
"During the energy planning process, we therefore cannot discriminate against or favour any particular energy carriers," said Radebe.
Addressing the BBQ Awards held at Emperor's Palace on Friday, Radebe said the country cannot ignore the fact that South Africa is endowed with abundant coal reserves that come at a cheap price.
"However this is counter-balanced by the high carbon content that coal has, and this cost has been internalised when we analysed policy options where emissions reduction targets and carbon taxes are introduced.
"We have to consider nuclear, and despite its high capital costs, we have not lost sight of the fact that this is a clean energy source that can contribute optimally for electricity generation. We have to consider hydro as well, particularly with respect to Cahora Bassa in Mozambique and [Grand] Inga in the DRC," said the Minister.
He added that the Department of Energy has sent out strong signals with regards to the role that renewable energy technology should play in South Africa's energy mix.
Through the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer (REIPP) programme, the department has successfully implemented bidding rounds to which the response has been positive.
The Minister's comments come as power utility Eskom has had to implement load shedding due to shortages in capacity while also battling mounting debt.
Turning his focus on petroleum products, Radebe noted South Africa's high dependency on imported crude oil due its diminishing refining capacity.
This, he said, places the country at significant risk to global instability and the country needs to look at alternative sources and resources to meet its liquid fuel needs.
Shale gas, he said, cannot be ignored as it has the potential to contribute significantly to the country's future energy needs.
Radebe has previously stated that gas is the fastest growing fossil fuel and it is expected to catch up with coal over the next 20 years.
Shale gas could help the country move towards a low carbon economy.
"There are also significant socio-economic development benefits that could be realised through the creation of primary and secondary industries and new job opportunities," he said.