Apr 12, 2013
Nuclear power should be shunned on economic, enviro and ethical groundsBack
Construction|Engineering|SECURITY|Africa|CoAL|Eskom|Gas|Nuclear|Renewable Energy|Renewable-Energy|Security|Waste|Water|Africa|Mozambique|South Africa|United States|Security|Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute|Baseload Electricity|Electricity|Energy|Energy Efficiency|Energy Experts|Energy Mix|Energy Needs|Energy Neutral|Energy Research Centres|Mining|Nuclear|Nuclear Energy|Private Banks|Proposed New Nuclear Energy Build Programme|Renewable Energy|Renewable-energy Potential|Security|Transport|Economic Development Western Cape|Dipuo Peters|Indaba|Jacob Zuma|Kgalema Motlanthe|Nelisiwe Magubane|Power|Pravin Gordhan|Security|Waste|Water|Scientific American|The Economist|The Engineering News
© Reuse this
Leaders from a wide cross section of the faith community are seeking an urgent meeting with Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and have endorsed the call by Minister in the Presidency responsible for the National Planning Commission Trevor Manuel for a national Energy Indaba.
This follows a report in the Engineering News of February 22, which stated that Department of Energy director-general Nelisiwe Magubane had said South Africa was likely to reach a “point of no return” by June this year with regard to its proposed new nuclear energy build programme.
In his State of the Nation address, President Jacob Zuma endorsed the National Development Plan, which has questioned the advisability of nuclear power. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said in his Budget speech that South Africa must “adapt to a low-carbon economy, including the mobilisation of our renewable-energy potential”. It is unclear whether the Minister views nuclear energy as ‘low carbon’. Nevertheless, statements of commitment to nuclear energy have been made.
Faith leaders are extremely alarmed at such statements, given the rising evidence regarding the consequences for society, the economy, job creation and the environment.
The Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum, the KwaZulu-Natal Inter-Religious Council, the South African Catholic Bishops Conference’s Justice and Peace Commission and the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute all wrote to Zuma last year, but have received no response. A small group met with Energy Minister Dipuo Peters in July 2012 to express their concern. She confirmed that she believed in an “energy mix”, stating that she was “energy neutral”. The delegation stated that one cannot be neutral when it comes to nuclear energy.
It is well known among economists and energy research centres that nuclear energy:
This is why private banks and the World Bank have always refused to fund nuclear power stations – this is left to governments and their taxpayers.
The Economist magazine published a special edition on nuclear energy (March 10 to 16, 2012), saying that it has priced itself out of serious consideration.
Scientific American published a special edition in November 2009 that stated: “Wind, water and solar power could supply the world’s energy needs by 2030.”
Nuclear energy, based on current estimates, costs at least twice the price of wind and PV, and it will take at least 12 years to generate electricity (according to information from the Department of Economic Devel- opment Western Cape, the German Green Party and the Union of Concerned Scientists in the US).
Natural gas off the coast of Mozambique (not shale gas!) could be brought to South Africa’s coastal cities within two or three years where, combined with renewables, it would provide a robust baseload capacity and save the 30% energy lost in bringing electricity from Mpumalanga.
Taxpaying South Africans have to pay the capital costs – either through taxes or increased tariffs – of R385-billion for the two new coal-fired power stations, while the proposed ‘six-pack’ of nuclear plants will set us back R940-billion (according to figures provided by Eskom).
It is also a myth that nuclear energy will assist in reducing South Africa’s carbon footprint. The costs of mining uranium ore are increasing with the diminishing availability of high-grade uranium, as are the costs of transport and construction. All these processes are highly carbon intensive. What is more, with the long build times, nuclear power will come on line too late to address the urgent need to reduce our carbon emissions.
The IRP2010 was due to be renewed in 2012, and already the predictions it made with regard to demand for electricity have been found to be significantly inflated, compared with the reality. It would be irresponsible for government to make a decision on nuclear power based on data that is known to be outdated.
We know that government is following the IRP2010, which includes nuclear energy. Zuma has stated government wants to root out corruption, but government must know the danger of corruption and fraud associa- ted with nuclear, which requires secrecy, as it is a security risk. There is great danger that those ‘in the know’ and in power might have vested interests in promoting nuclear energy, particularly given the scale of investments involved. The arms deal involved R70-billion. Imagine what could happen with R940-billion. We are talking about investments 14 times greater.
Centralised energy generation is not the direction in which the country should go. We need decentralised energy generation that puts power in the hands of the people. Centralised electricity is for the benefit of the extractive industries and smelters – not the two-million largely impoverished households dotted across our rural areas. The high energy paradigm benefits capital investors, who prefer to invest in machines rather than people, resulting in a decline in employment. They also invest for financial returns and not the development of people, communities or the protection of the environment.
Edited by: Martin Zhuwakinyu© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other News This Week News
Updated 1 hour 9 minutes ago Electrical and lighting product distributor ARB Holdings CEO Byron Nichles has resigned, effective October 31, to take up “another career opportunity”. ARB on Friday said it would initiate the process of identifying and appointing a successor.
Updated 1 hour 43 minutes ago The key to the development of South Africa lay in mineral beneficiation and industrialisation in joint development with its regional neighbours, South Africa’s new Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene told the Centre for Education In Economics and Finance (CEEF)....
Updated 2 hours 21 minutes ago The DA has called on Auditor General Kimi Makwetu to investigate allegations of irregularities in the awarding of tenders worth more than R200-million by the defence department. "The dodgy defence force air transport tender must be investigated," said Democratic...
Recent Research Reports
Road and Rail 2014: A review of South Africa's road and rail infrastructure (PDF report)
Creamer Media’s Road and Rail 2014 report examines South Africa’s road and rail transport system, with particular focus on the size and state of the country’s road and rail network, the funding and maintenance of these respective networks, and the push to move...
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2014 (PDF Report)
This six-page brief covers key developments in the road and rail industries over the past 12 months, including details of South Africa’s road and rail network and prospects for both sectors.
This Week's Magazine
South African State-owned defence industrial group Denel has announced its fourth consecutive year of profits. The group's results for the financial year 2013/2014 were recently announced at its head office in Centurion, south of Pretoria. Revenues grew by 17%, net...
There is little opportunity for JSE-listed infrastructure company Group Five to grow shareholder value in the domestic market, says CEO Mike Upton. He says value can still be found in the private sector, in the renewable and industrial power sector, as well as in...
The National Association of Automobile Manufacturers of South Africa (Naamsa) has announced the event dates of the 2015 Johannesburg International Motor Show (JIMS). The event will take place from October 14 to October 25, 2015, at the Johannesburg Expo Centre, Nasrec.
UK engineering support services provider Babcock is set to deliver the largest order of global truck manufacturer DAF’s truck tractors in Southern Africa to bulk carrier road-based logistics company Ngululu Bulk Carriers (NBC), with 133 trucks to be delivered in...
Digital radio communications in the African local government space can open up the world, but have many challenges to overcome, notes integration and migration of legacy radio communications infrastructure with digital mobile radio company Emcom Wireless head of...