* Previous plans by Eskom shelved due to lack of funds
* Nuclear plants to replace coal power stations
DURBAN, South Africa, Feb 23 South Africa plans to build multiple nuclear plants to plug the country's power deficit and reduce its carbon footprint, a senior official said on Tuesday.
Director General at the ministry of energy Nelisiwe Magubane said one plant only would not make sense economically.
"Nuclear is definitely on the table. We cannot build just one plant, it has to be a fleet," she told Reuters on the sidelines of an African utility conference in Durban.
Magubane said the nuclear plants will be used to replace ageing coal-fired power plants, adding that between 2020 and 2030 some 7,000 MW would need to be built.
"Because of liabilities like waste management we wouldn't want to leave it totally to private investors," she said.
The last attempt to build the country's next nuclear plant, led by state-owned utility Eskom [ESCJ.UL], has been scratched due to a lack of funding.
She said private investment would also help keep prices reasonable, adding that in comparison to prices offered elsewhere, the proposals put forward by the bidders in the last tender were "highly overpriced".
"We might have been overcharged for Nuclear 1 -- that's the consensus. The price was so crazy compared to what others are offering," she said.
Bidders in the nuclear plant included France's Areva CEPFi.PA and U.S. company Westinghaus. (Reporting by Agnieszka Flak; Editing by Michael Urquhart)