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South Africa’s poor will not be able to afford nuclear electricity

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Direct and associated coal, nuclear and other fossil fuel costs continue to rise, while solar and wind costs continue to drop………… Through smart planning and a move away from energy-intensive economic sectors, South Africa can decouple electricity demand from economic growth.

This will enable us to replace coal, fossil fuel-based and nuclear power plants as they retire with renewable energy technologies.

New power plan jeopardises electricity access for poor 02 AUG 2013  Mail and Guardian, South Africa ROBERT FISCHER The cost of electricity is the subject of talks around every table in every home in the country.

These costs are heavily influenced by the cost of generating electricity.

Now the Mail & Guardian tells us that President Jacob Zuma is pushing ahead with plans for nuclear plants, “despite uncertainty about the affordability of nuclear energy and the availability of sufficient expertise” (“Zuma slips into nuclear driver’s seat”, July 25). Eskom told the National Energy Regulator of South Africa that it “need[s] to recover the cost of producing electricity, which includes operating costs as well as the costs of financing new capacity,” through its tariffs. An extremely expensive nuclear programme could seriously jeopardise the crucial social investment of providing electricity.

When you consider that the poorest households spend 32% of their income on electricity, housing, water, gas and other fuels (excluding transport), turning on the lights becomes an expensive option.

Zuma’s enthusiasm for expensive nuclear power is extremely bad news. According to Eskom’s third multiyear price determination application, expenditure beyond R1-trillion can be expected.

This is without financing costs and construction delays. When new nuclear power finally comes online by 2030 or later, electricity from all renewable sources will be cheaper.

Eskom’s expansion plans are outlined in the department of energy’s integrated resource plan 2010-2030 (IRP2010).

A civil society coalition called the Electricity Governance Initiative of South Africa, formed to comment on the government’s energy policy, recently published its new smart electricity planning report.

This finds that new nuclear and coal-fired power plants beyond Medupi and Kusile are unnecessary.

It is an important finding, and one that the coalition wishes the government would heed.

The report finds that the IRP2010 is built on “inflated electricity demand projections … that will result in expensive infrastructure investment which will push up the cost of electricity, impacting the whole economy and further marginalising the poor”.

The report’s authors believe that the IRP2010’s calculations are incorrect. The current trend for the growth in demand is far below the plan’s assumptions. Last year, demand dropped by 2.6% (compared with 2011) and was more than 10% below the forecast.

And the number one demand driver — economic growth — is lower than expected, worldwide and in South Africa….  the coalition report shows how sufficient and reliable elec- tricity could be provided without new coal and nuclear — electricity conservation and efficiency can reduce demand by 16% across the residential, commercial, mining and industrial sectors by 2030.

If efficiency and demand-side measures were more aggressive than prescribed in the voluntary targets of the energy efficiency strategy, demand could be reduced by 27% by 2030 without constraining sustainable development.

Investing in our plentiful renewable energy potential will encourage economic growth, create sustainable jobs to replace fossil-fuel-based jobs, and have positive knock-on effects for the poor, especially in rural areas.

Direct and associated coal, nuclear and other fossil fuel costs continue to rise, while solar and wind costs continue to drop………… Through smart planning and a move away from energy-intensive economic sectors, South Africa can decouple electricity demand from economic growth.

This will enable us to replace coal, fossil fuel-based and nuclear power plants as they retire with renewable energy technologies.

Robert Fischer is one of the authors of the smart electricity planning report produced by the ­Electricity Governance Initiative of South Africa http://mg.co.za/article/2013-08-02-00-new-power-plan-jeopardises-electricity-access-for-poor

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August 3, 2013 - Posted by | politics, South Africa

1 Comment »

  1. I like your website because it helps educating people about nuclear energy and what may happen when people turn to manufacturing atomic bombs instead. I am writing a book about Zimbabwe’s uranium not as a geologist but a political scientist.

    Comment by Clifford Chitupa Mashiri | August 19, 2013 | Reply


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