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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

South Africa – Russia nuclear agreement is by no means a done deal

scrutiny-on-costsflag-S.Africaflag_RussiaSA’s nuclear deal with Russia is far from done, Mail & Guardian 20 FEB 2015  LISA STEYN Money is the big problem with the initial agreement Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson signed last year, given the financial positions of both countries.   Russia has emerged as an apparent frontrunner to participate in South Africa’s nuclear build, but selecting the technology is just the first of many challenges that could see a nuclear deal such as this come a cropper.

With the Russian economy in turmoil and the subsequent high cost of borrowing, its ability to raise the funding for its nuclear ambitions in many countries is being called into question – as is its ability to deliver on time.

For South Africa, it is even more of a mystery how the government will provide the loan guarantees that would be required, given that so many have been extended to ailing parastatals such as Eskom and SAA. The state may have hit its limit.

Regardless of which vendor is chosen, the guarantees and the government’s 50% localisation target for the project appear to be insurmountable obstacles, particularly given the challenges faced by the domestic construction industry.

The memorandum of understanding signed between Russia and South Africa last year is far more than a generic agreement, as the government had claimed it is. Rather, it lays the groundwork for government-to-government contracting, in terms that heavily favour Russia, the Mail & Guardian reported last week.

Not only will the agreement be binding for 20 years once in force, but the Russians will also be indemnified from any liability arising from nuclear accidents during the reactors’ life. Russia is also granted a host of regulatory concessions and favourable tax and other financial treatment. The designated competent authorities are South Africa’s department of energy and Russia’s Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation.

But unresolved issues could make the deal unworkable. An industry expert, who did not wish to be named, said: “My own view is I don’t think the guys driving it from the South African side have joined the dots. I don’t have huge confidence in the people running it and that they understand the issues.”

Financing
Despite the apparent commitment to forge ahead with Russian technology, the agreement defers a decision about funding.

The Russians are known to have offered South Africa a “build, own, operate” construction deal, according to which Russia would build and run the nuclear station, and sell the power to South Africa at an agreed price. This kind of vendor-assisted financing may be the only way South Africa could afford to go nuclear. But the bigger question now is: Can Russia?

First, sanctions have been imposed on Russia for its military intervention in the Ukraine. Then the oil price tumbled, severely hitting government revenues, which are heavily reliant on oil and gas taxes. Subsequently, the rouble has lost almost 50% of its value since the start of 2014, inflation has soared to 15%, and its sovereign credit rating was cut to sub-investment grade by one agency in January. And, in 2014 alone, $151-billion was taken out of the country.

Some nuclear economists and industry insiders believe this dire state of affairs could affect Russia’s nuclear ambitions, as new builds involve high upfront costs and are extremely sensitive to the cost of financing, which is mainly the interest rates at which the funding is secured…….

Delays
The unnamed industry expert, however, expressed concern that Russia might commit itself to a further agreement but not honour it. He said other nations that had signed nuclear deals with Russia, such as Vietnam, India and Turkey, had all experienced delays………….. http://mg.co.za/article/2015-02-19-sas-nuclear-deal-with-russia-is-far-from-done

February 21, 2015 Posted by | marketing, politics international, Russia, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa by-passes Constitution in top secret nuclear agreement with Russia

secret-dealsflag-S.Africa‘Top secret’ nuclear plan ducks scrutiny   Mail & Guardian 20 FEB 2015 00:00 LIONEL FAULL, SAM SOLE & STEFAANS BRÜMMER Bureaucrats driving the new build programme seem comfortable skirting transparency and fair value. In a “top secret” presentation, the energy department has proposed a closed government-to-government procurement of new nuclear power stations instead of a transparent and competitive ­tender.

If adopted, this would pave the way for the nuclear co-operation agreement it concluded with Russia in September – or “similar” agreements it concluded with France and China after an outcry that it was favouring the Russians – to be implemented without pitting potential suppliers openly against each other.

This flies in the face of public assurances from the government that it would follow a competitive process.

During his State of the Nation address last week, President Jacob Zuma said all countries that bid “will be engaged in a fair, transparent and competitive procurement process to select a strategic partner, or partners, to undertake the nuclear build programme”.

If the mooted six to eight nuclear power stations are built, it will be South Africa’s most expensive procurement yet, at roughly R1-trillion.

The agreement with Russia, revealed by amaBhungane last week, states that the South African government is prepared to give Russia the exclusive rights to its nuclear build programme for a minimum of 20 years. During that time, Russia could block South Africa from procuring nuclear technology from any other country.

The agreement is not yet binding, as it requires the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces to ratify it.

The French and Chinese agreements remain undisclosed.

The energy department’s recommendations on the procurement method are contained in a separate document obtained by amaBhungane. It is marked “top secret” and was prepared for presentation to the national nuclear energy executive co-ordination committee in October 2013.  This was a Cabinet committee comprising the ministers and government officials directly responsible for implementing the new nuclear programme and was chaired by President Jacob Zuma………..

Despite the apparent global tendency to conclude nuclear tenders one on one, and behind closed doors, the lack of transparency is likely to jar with what South Africa’s Constitution says about procurement.

According to section 217, “when an organ of state … contracts for goods or services, it must do so in accordance with a system which is fair, equitable, transparent, competitive and cost-effective”……..

History doomed to repeat itself
The last time the government bypassed the Constitution on a major public procurement, the deal went badly wrong…….. The lessons of the Airbus debacle are there to be learned, so it remains to be seen whether section 217 will be bypassed again.

The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for our stories, activities and funding sources.   http://mg.co.za/article/2015-02-19-top-secret-nuclear-plan-ducks-scrutiny

February 21, 2015 Posted by | politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

MR SENTI THOBEJANE – the secret voice behind South Africa’s covert nuclear power plans

Whether or not he is appointed, Mr Thobejane already wields enviable power. He was instrumental in negotiating the nuclear co-operation agreements with Russia, France and China, which have been kept secret not just from the public but also from top government officials in the Department of Energy and the Treasury. The Cabinet is also yet to see the agreements……

With rational planning processes set aside, Mr Thobejane’s advice could turn out to be more influential than all the well-laid plans on paper.

secret-agentflag-S.AfricaHidden voice behind SA’s nuclear plans, Business Day  BY CAROL PATON, 20 FEBRUARY 2015 PRESIDENTIAL AND DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY ADVISER SENTI THOBEJANE IS CERTAINLY NO HOUSEHOLD NAME, BUT THE CONSEQUENCES OF HIS ADVICE WILL BE FELT IN YEARS TO COME IN EACH HOUSEHOLD AND BUSINESS OF THE FUTURE.

Mr Thobejane is one of SA’s most influential people. As adviser to Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson and a frequent adviser to President Jacob Zuma, he is in the uniquely powerful position of having direct channels to the two most important people in the Cabinet at the precise moment that SA contemplates radical decisions in its energy future.

So who is Senti Thobejane and what are his views on the big questions of the day?

Mr Thobejane is a US-schooled physicist and an ardent supporter of nuclear energy, a sector in which he has been involved for a good part of his life. His passion for nuclear energy and knowledge of energy matters has put him at the side of Mr Zuma in recent trips to China and Russia.

It has also made him a key figure in the Cabinet’s subcommittee on energy security that is overseeing SA’s nuclear procurement, as well as in the negotiations on international agreements for nuclear co-operation Continue reading

February 21, 2015 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

Renewable energy for South Africa – not the cost, secrecy, corruption that goes with nuclear and coal

Next comes nuclear. The cost of $100 billion for 9 600 new MW of power – a guestimate at this stage – does not include ongoing expenses for uranium, transport and permanent safe storage. Illustrating the financial risk, the main French company bidding for SA’s attention is Areva, the world’s largest nuke builder – a company facing potential bankruptcy after its credit rating was cut to junk status in November.

Another huge risk is obvious: corruption

Instead of endorsing nuclear-powered corruption, the moment is surely nearing for the state’s phase-out of subsidised energy to foreign corporations? The capital-intensive, high-energy guzzling firms need to be replaced by civil society’s low-energy, high-employment ‘Million Climate Jobs’ campaign alternatives
 South Africa: Keep South Africa’s Lights On With Renewable Energy – or Irradiate a Darkened Nation All Africa, By Patrick Bond, 20 Feb 15 

After an explosive start to his State of the Nation Address last week, South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma turned to nuclear, coal, fracking and offshore drilling projects – but what about the country’s free sunshine, wind and tides?

Last Thursday night in Cape Town’s Parliament hall, South Africa’s newest and cheekiest political party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), fought gamely but lost their two-dozen seats for the evening. They were expelled during the State of the Nation speech when making what they termed a ‘point of order': asking whether President Jacob Zuma would ‘pay back the money’ (about $20 million) that the state illegitimately spent on upgrading his rural mansion. As police ushered them out with extreme force, seven were hospitalised, one with a broken jaw.

The society only saw the fracas on journalists’ cellphones later, because the SABC public broadcaster refused to screen the floor, panning only a small area where the Parliamentary leadership were gesticulating for police action. Showing surprising technical prowess but extremely weak political judgment, Zuma’s security officials had jammed cellphone and Wifi signals in the hall just before the event began, creating outrage by opposition Members of Parliament (MPs) and journalists alike. The centre-right Democratic Alliance then walked out in protest against armed police having cleared out the EFF MPs.

The dust settled 45 minutes later, with Zuma chortling and African National Congress (ANC) MPs cheering, and most observers sickened by the spectacle. Still, much more important news would follow, though in the dull tone that Zuma reserves for formal speeches. Given the country’s fury at electricity load-shedding – near daily outages of 2-4 hours – many were relieved that a substantial 14 percent of Zuma’s talk was dedicated to this theme: ‘We are doing everything we can to resolve the energy challenge.’

Listen more closely, though. Aside from building three huge coal-fired power plants, two of which are mired in construction crises, the other long-term supply strategy, accounting for one in six of his words on energy, is nuclear. By 2030 a fleet of reactors is meant to provide 9600 MW. Today we have 42 000 MW installed, of which 39 000 comes from coal. But the economy uses just 30 000 at peak. What with so much capacity unavailable, load-shedding is set to continue for at least the next three years.

To truly ‘resolve’, not defer, the challenge will require a huge roll-out of public investment. ………….

Next comes nuclear. The cost of $100 billion for 9 600 new MW of power – a guestimate at this stage – does not include ongoing expenses for uranium, transport and permanent safe storage. Illustrating the financial risk, the main French company bidding for SA’s attention is Areva, the world’s largest nuke builder – a company facing potential bankruptcy after its credit rating was cut to junk status in November.

Another huge risk is obvious: corruption. Last Thursday, Zuma proclaimed ‘a fair, transparent, and competitive procurement process to select a strategic partner or partners to undertake the nuclear build programme.’ Hmmmm. Replies Moulana Riaz Simjee of the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute, ‘This nuclear deal poses an enormous corruption risk. It is happening in secret and will make the arms deal look like a walk in the park.’

With prescient timing, the Mail&Guardian last week exposed a Moscow foreign ministry website which provides details about the extent of the nuclear deal that Zuma had already cut with Vladimir Putin six months ago. The contract indemnifies Russian suppliers from any nuclear accident liabilities and gives ‘special favourable treatment’ for taxes.

A durable concern with nuclear energy is safety because three of the world’s most technically advanced countries – Japan, Russia and the US – conclusively demonstrated its catastrophic danger at Fukushima (2011), Chernobyl (1996) and Three Mile Island (1979)……..

Greenpeace continues vibrant anti-nuke protests, this month bringing the ship Rainbow Warrior to local ports and last week, once again unveiling its opponents’ security lapses by disrupting the opening session of Cape Town’s 2nd Nuclear Industry Congress Africa with a banner hang declaring, ‘Nuclear investments cost the earth.’

 Other civil society activists work hard against nuclear: to name a few, the National Union of Mineworkers’ Sibusiso Mimi, Mike Kantey from the Coalition against Nuclear Energy and, in Jeffreys Bay where one of the world’s greatest surf waves is threatened by a proposed power plant, Trudy Malan from the Thyspunt Alliance.

Such citizen advocacy helped halt South Africa’s zany Pebble Bed nuclear experiments, in which a generator was meant to be collapsed on top of pebble storage units after its life span, saving storage costs. But regrettably $1.5 billion of taxpayer funding was wasted, mostly under Finance Minister Trevor Manuel’s nose (his successor Pravin Gordhan pulled the plug)……….

We really don’t need this risky behaviour. In three years from 2013-15, at least 2500 MW of renewable energy capacity will have been constructed in South Africa. According to Simjee, ‘Eskom itself has completed the construction of the Sere Wind Farm, which is already delivering 100 megawatts to the grid, well ahead of its intended launch in March this year.’ Sere’s cost is just $2.3 million/MW, far below all competitors, with no operating expenses aside from occasional maintenance.

These are supply-side enhancements, and will take time. For more rapid relief, on the demand side it appears Eskom is overdue in addressing wastage by the minerals and smelting corporations. The Energy Intensive Users Group’s 31 members use 44% of our electricity, and their Resource Curse has diminished the integrity of South African politics, economics, society, public health and environment.

Instead of endorsing nuclear-powered corruption, the moment is surely nearing for the state’s phase-out of subsidised energy to foreign corporations? The capital-intensive, high-energy guzzling firms need to be replaced by civil society’s low-energy, high-employment ‘Million Climate Jobs’ campaign alternatives…………..

for those aiming to breed a herd of nuclear White Elephants in coming years, maybe the opening theatrics before Zuma’s speech can resonate; maybe the EFF’s insistent call to, ‘pay back the money’, will prove a deterrent to those with nuclear fantasies.

Prof Patrick Bond directs the University of KwaZulu-Natal Centre for Civil Society in Durban. http://allafrica.com/stories/201502201281.html

February 21, 2015 Posted by | media, politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s secretive and super- expensive nuclear power plans

nuclear-costsflag-S.AfricaGovt in R1trillion nuclear strategy, Business Report South Africa February 16 2015  Paul Burkhardt, Mike Cohen and Franz Wild THE GOVERNMENT is forging ahead with plans to spend as much as R1 trillion on new nuclear plants, ignoring objections from environmental activists, opposition parties, unions and even its own advisers.

Bids would be sought from the US, China, France, Russia and South Korea to add 9 600 megawatts of atomic power to the national grid to address energy shortages in Africa’s second-largest economy, President Jacob Zuma said in his annual State of the Nation address on Thursday. The first output was targeted for 2023, he said.

“We know exactly what we need,” Zuma said on Friday. “We are now well-informed. We are moving ahead.”……..

Detractors of the nuclear plan argue that the plants will be too costly, take too long to build and that the bidding process will be vulnerable to corruption. The National Development Plan, the government’s blueprint for growing the economy, recommended that alternatives be investigated, including the use of gas plants, which would be easier to finance and build.

More expensive

“Nuclear is not a wise choice for South Africa,” Anton Eberhard, a member of the National Planning Commission that advises on implementing the development plan and a professor at the University of Cape Town on February 11. “Nuclear energy will not enable us to resolve our immediate power crisis. It is more expensive than other energy options.”

A 20-year plan published by the energy minister in December 2013 said the decision on whether to build new nuclear plants could be delayed until at least 2025 to allow for a proper assessment of alternatives and likely power demand.

Areva, EDF, Toshiba’s Westinghouse, China Guangdong Nuclear Power, Rosatom and Korea Electric Power have expressed interest in building new plants in South Africa.

The DA said the nuclear bidding process had been clouded by secrecy and had the potential for corruption. The party called on Zuma to abandon it. The National Union of Mineworkers, an ally of the ruling ANC, said nuclear power was not a priority and more focus should be placed on completing two new coal-fired power stations that were running behind schedule.

Greenpeace, an environmental activist group, staged a protest against nuclear energy at an industry meeting in Cape Town on Thursday.http://www.iol.co.za/business/international/govt-in-r1trillion-nuclear-strategy-1.1818515#.VOPqeuaUcnk

February 18, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Russia- South Africa secret deal exposed: details are fearful ones for South Africa

secret-dealsRussian-Bearflag-S.AfricaExposed: Scary details of SA’s secret Russian nuke deal, Mail & Guardian  13 FEB 2015 00:00 LIONEL FAULL The secret nuclear deal our leaders have signed with Russia carries many risks for South Africa. Shocking details of the secret nuclear deal that Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson signed with Russia last year can, for the first time, be revealed. The text, which has been jealously guarded by her department and Russian nuclear company Rosatom, holds many dangers for South Africa.

It creates an expectation that Russian technology will be used for South Africa’s trillion-rand fleet of new nuclear power stations. And by laying the groundwork for government-to-government contracting, it appears designed to sidestep the constitutional requirement for open and competitive tendering.

Once the agreement comes into force, the Russians will have a veto over South Africa doing business with any other nuclear vendor. And it will be binding for a minimum of 20 years, during which Russia can hold a gun to South Africa’s head, in effect saying: “Do business with us, or forget nuclear.”

The agreement confirms the government’s intention to make “Atomic Tina’s” energy department the procuring agent for the nuclear programme rather than Eskom – where the country’s nuclear expertise lies, despite the utility’s travails. Joemat-Pettersson signed the agreement in Vienna on September 21 last year, three weeks after President Jacob Zuma held talks with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, at the latter’s country estate.

It led to an immediate outcry as it appeared that Russia was being favoured over other vendor countries………..

The terms of the agreement lean heavily in Russia’s favour. They:

  • Indemnify the Russians from any liability arising from nuclear accidents during the reactors’ life. The agreement says South Africa is “solely responsible for any damage both within and outside the territory of the Republic of South Africa”;
  • Hand the Russians a host of regulatory concessions and “special favourable treatment” in tax and other financial matters, but offer South Africa no such incentives; and
  • Require Russia’s permission if South Africa wants to export nuclear technology it develops locally as a result of learning from the Russians, thereby hindering government’s aim that the nuclear new-build programme will develop a globally competitive local nuclear industry………..
How we got the secret documentThe supposedly confidential agreement is published among the list of bilateral treaties on the website of the legal department of the Russian foreign ministry.

It was first obtained by South African environmental organisation Earthlife Africa Johannesburg by Russian anti-nuclear activist and head of Ecodefense Vladimir Slivyak, who got it from a source in the Russian foreign ministry. It is in Russian, and includes the signatures of Rosatom’s director general Sergey Kirienko and South African energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson.

A Russian translator commissioned by Earthlife to translate the agreement into English subsequently also found it publicly available on the ministry’s website. amaBhungane has compared Joemat-Pettersson’s signature on the document with her signature on a current document; they are identical. amaBhungane has also commissioned its own translation of the agreement, which is available to download by clicking on the link at the top of this story. – Lionel Faull

The M&G Centre for Investigative Journalism (amaBhungane) produced this story. All views are ours. See www.amabhungane.co.za for our stories, activities and funding sources. http://mg.co.za/article/2015-02-12-exposed-scary-details-of-secret-russian-nuke-deal

February 14, 2015 Posted by | civil liberties, politics international, Russia, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

Political factors and funding problems delay South Africa’s new nuclear reactor

nukes-hungryflag-S.AfricaNuclear reactor now delayed until 2025  IOL February 13 2015 Cape Town – The nuclear industry says “political delays” have pushed the completion date for the country’s first new nuclear reactor from 2023 to 2025.

Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa (Niasa) managing director Knox Msebenzi told delegates at the 2nd Nuclear Industry Congress in Africa 2015 in Sea Point yesterday that the association had met some nuclear vendors wanting to sell their technology to South Africa, and would meet others. The vendors the industry was talking to were Areva, Westinghouse, Rosatom, Kepco (Korea Electric Power Corporation) and China’s State Nuclear Power Technology Corporation (SNPTC).

“The first plant was due in 2023, but it’s been very delayed. Part of the delay has to do with politics. The latest date is 2025, but there may be other delays. Maybe we’re perceived by government as not ready. We’ve got many vendors wanting to participate,” Msebenzi said…….

Msebenzi quoted International Atomic Energy Agency director-general Yukiya Am-ano, who said the two biggest challenges facing any country that embarked on a nuclear energy programme were funding and human resource capability. He dismissed the funding issue: “Funding is not up to the industry, it is really for government to look after,” Msebenzi said……..

National Treasury said this month no money had been budgeted for the nuclear build programme in the next three years. http://www.iol.co.za/scitech/technology/news/nuclear-reactor-now-delayed-until-2025-1.1818031#.VN5jT-aUcnk

February 14, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

The international battle to market nuclear technology to South Africa

flag-S.AfricaGeopolitics key in battle to gain SA’s nuclear nod, IOL Zambia, December 23 2014 By BloombergPaul Burkhardt and Franz Wild POLITICS may tip the balance as Russia’s Rosatom and France’s Areva prepare to battle it out for South Africa’s planned nuclear energy project that could cost $100 billion (R1.2 trillion).fighters-marketing-1

“Geopolitical and industrial relations between South Africa and the nuclear-vendor countries will play an important role,” Des Muller, the head of Johannesburg-based building company Group Five’s nuclear construction division, said last week. “It does with all major infrastructure projects and more so on nuclear infrastructures where reliance on nuclear safety and construction know-how is paramount.”

South Africa could pay as much as $100bn spread out over a period of 15 years for nuclear reactors to provide 9 600 megawatts of power, Muller said………

“The South African government has stressed that through the new build process we wish to revitalise a nuclear industry in South Africa with a view to long-term self-sufficiency,” Xolisa Mabhongo, the group executive corporate services at the Nuclear Energy Corporation of SA, or Necsa, said in response to questions………

Russia might already have a head-start as President Jacob Zuma fostered stronger economic co-operation with the country and China in a shift from his Western and Africa-leaning predecessor Thabo Mbeki, Robert Besseling, an analyst with IHS Country Risk, said.

The Soviet Union and then Russia historically kept close ties with the ruling ANC from the days in which it was battling against the apartheid regime. Under Zuma’s watch, South Africa was incorporated into the Brics alliance with Brazil, Russia, India and China.

“Considering the much stronger relationship between the Zuma presidency and the Russian government than under the previous South African administration, it looks much more likely that the expansion of the nuclear programme will be awarded to Russia,” Besseling said………http://www.iol.co.za/business/news/geopolitics-key-in-battle-to-gain-sa-s-nuclear-nod-1.1798374#.VJsqssA8

December 24, 2014 Posted by | marketing, South Africa | Leave a comment

1,000 MW of renewable energy contracts for South Africa

South Africa to announce 1,000 MW of renewable energy contracts Fri Dec 12, 2014 JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa will announce a series of renewable energy projects on Monday that will add 1,000 megawatts (MW) of power into the country’s constrained electricity grid, sources close to the deals told Reuters……http://af.reuters.com/article/investingNews/idAFKBN0JQ19W20141212

December 13, 2014 Posted by | renewable, South Africa | Leave a comment

Report: Russian Nuclear Industry in Review

Russian-BearPAY MORE WITH NUCLEAR” : REPORT 4 http://earthlife.org.za/2014/12/pay-more-with-nuclear-report-4/ The report, entitled “Russian Nuclear Industry in Review”, is authored by Russian environmental activist and academic Vladimir Slivyak; and provides an insider view into the workings of the Russian nuclear industry. The report is fourth in the series “Pay more with nuclear”, which examines the enormous costs involved in building, operating and decommissioning nuclear power plants.

The Russian deal is being marketed as preferential because it includes Russian government funding, construction assistance and fuel cycle services. But the “Russian Nuclear Industry in Review” report shows fatal flaws with the concept and reveals the shady corners of the Russian nuclear industry.

Key Documents:
  1. Report 1: Nuclear Technology options for South Africa
  2. Report 2: Funding Nuclear Decommissioning – Lessons for South Africa
  3. Report 3: What Does It Take To Finance New Nuclear Power Plants?
  4. Report 4: Russian Nuclear Industry Overview

December 8, 2014 Posted by | politics, Russia, South Africa | Leave a comment

How the South African government shafts renewables, in its policy fixated on nuclear power

flag-S.AfricaNuclear fixation shafts renewables, Mail &Guardian, Africa 21 NOV 2014 00:00 SIPHO KINGS The third window is waiting to be signed off but the energy department is preoccupied elsewhere Within two years, South Africa could have a further 1 200 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy entering the grid. The bidders have been selected and the companies are waiting for financial sign-off so they can start building.

But policy uncertainty and a new focus on nuclear energy are responsible for a nearly 18-month delay in the government giving them the go-ahead, industry insiders say.

In the wake of the 2009 energy crisis, the energy department set out an ambitious renewable energy programme: independent power producers (IPPs) would build the capacity to produce 3 725MW of electricity. This was split into three bidding opportunities, or windows, with companies bidding for a certain allocation in each.

The first two were hailed as great successes and, for the past three years, South Africa has been listed as one of the top five destinations for investment in renewable energy. Wind energy is already producing 660MW. Updated plans envision 9?800MW of solar, 3 300MW of concentrated solar and 4 400MW of wind energy by 2030.

But the third window has been delayed repeatedly. Several concerned individuals, working for renewable companies and unwilling to disclose their names for fear of jeopardising their relationship with the government, said political considerations were to blame.

“We have been told that the new minister’s [Tina Joemat-Pettersson] mandate is strongly towards nuclear energy,” said one………..

The renewable energy companies, the majority of which provide wind and photovoltaic power, are incurring costs all the time. These include leasing the land on which the power stations will be built, which is spread out across the Eastern, Western and Northern Cape.

If the delays continued, the sources said, there would be a point beyond which companies would be unable to recoup their costs, even if they started producing power soon. “We are not far from that point,” warned one renewable company employee. ………

A chance to reindustrialise
Groups such as Cosatu have hailed renewable energy as a chance to “reindustrialise” the country and companies are required to spend up to 70% of their budgets locally. Hundreds of millions of rands have been spent building factories to produce parts locally, such as the R300-million wind tower factory in Atlantis outside Cape Town. Solar panel factories alone have created 500 jobs.

This week the South Africa Renewable Energy Council said delaying the third window would have “extremely adverse consequences” for the industry and could also jeopardise the planned fourth renewable window.

Unlike South Africa’s centralised and state-owned power plants, renewables are financed by the private sector. The government, through Eskom, signs an agreement to buy their electricity at the rate presented in their bid. But they carry the risk.

The owner of one solar company said: “The worst thing for investors is uncertainty. The first two windows attracted so much investment and goodwill because the government was decisive. That is being thrown out of the window.”

If the third window was delayed, and there was another window to come, companies would hesitate to gamble with their money, they said………

Policy uncertainty
Twenty-six renewable energy projects have already been connected to the grid. The more than 60 projects have brought in R120-billion in foreign direct investment. Many of these are ahead of schedule, such as the 96MW Jasper solar plant near Upington in the Northern Cape.

It is the continent’s largest solar photovoltaic power plant. It has been built in the time that costs of the coal-fired Medupi and Kusile power stations, which are currently five years behind schedule, have nearly tripled.

But industry insiders are adamant that, if the policy uncertainty is not cleared up, the initial promise shown by the renewable programme will falter.

The department of energy was not available to respond to questions. http://mg.co.za/article/2014-11-20-nuclear-fixation-shafts-renewables

November 22, 2014 Posted by | politics, renewable, South Africa | Leave a comment

China joins the throng trying to flog off nuclear reactors to South Africa

China becomes latest country to sign SA nuclear accord http://www.moneyweb.co.za/moneyweb-south-africa/china-becomes-latest-country-to-sign-sa-nuclear-ac  Kevin Crowley, Bloomberg| 09 November 2014

Deal signed by Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson and her Chinese counterpart Wu Xinxiong.– South Africa, the continent’s second- largest economy and biggest power producer, signed a nuclear cooperation accord with China following similar agreements with Russia and France.

fighters-marketing-1

The framework agreement, which is a precursor to procurement, was signed by South Africa Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson and her Chinese counterpart Wu Xinxiong, the Pretoria-based Department of Energy said today in an e-mailed statement.

South Africa is planning agreements with other countries including Japan as it decides how best to procure as many as 9,600 megawatts of nuclear energy by 2030. The country, which through its state-owned utility has installed capacity of about 42,000 megawatts, is struggling to meet power demand and on Nov. 2 had rolling blackouts, a consequence of decades of underinvestment in generation.

Companies that have expressed interest in building nuclear power plants in South Africa include France’s Areva SA and Electricite de France SA, Westinghouse Electric Corp., a unit of Japan’s Toshiba Corp., Russia’s Rosatom Corp., China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding Corp. and Korea Electric Power Corp.

November 10, 2014 Posted by | marketing of nuclear, South Africa | 2 Comments

South Africa’s Cabinet not informed on nuclear agreements signed with France and Russia

secret-dealsflag-S.AfricaCabinet still not briefed over nuclear agreements Radebe, Business Day Live   BY PAUL VECCHIATTO, 07 NOVEMBER 2014, THE Cabinet, the government’s highest decision-making body, has not been briefed on the nuclear framework agreements signed with France and the Russian Federation……..Business Day, Sunday Times and the Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution will together make an application under the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) requesting evidence of a record of decision to forge ahead with nuclear power plants.

The application will also request information on the protocols and processes followed prior to the signing of the agreements as well as for documentation on any affordability study into the commissioning of nuclear power plants.

An earlier PAIA application by the Sunday Times to the Presidency, Parliament and the Department of Energy for access to the framework agreement SA signed with Russia two months ago, was refused this week by the Department of Energy. The department said the release of the agreements would compromise the delicate negotiations that SA was holding with other countries.

The department said the agreements contained sensitive scientific and commercial information.

The Sunday Times now has 60 days to lodge an appeal on its first application with the department in order to change its decision.

The opaqueness of the decision to build nuclear reactors has caused consternation among observers, the suspicion being that the government has already struck a secret deal with the Russian Federation.

It is believed that the Cabinet has not made a formal decision to procure nuclear power stations, yet Department of Energy officials have insisted on several occasions “that a procurement will take place”.

Director of the council, Lawson Naidoo, said clarity was needed on the decision-making process to establish whether proper governance was followed. “I don’t understand how an international agreement can be signed (by the minister) without the approval of Cabinet. How does a minister get the authority to sign without the approval of Cabinet?”…….http://www.bdlive.co.za/business/energy/2014/11/07/cabinet-still-not-briefed-over-nuclear-agreements–radebe

November 8, 2014 Posted by | politics international, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

Secretive deals between Russia and South Africa about buying nuclear technology

Russian-Bearflag-S.AfricaSecret nuclear deal talks held in KZN, news 24,  2014-10-24 Rowan Philp, The Witness Pietermaritzburg - Twenty of Vladimir Putin’s top nuclear experts pitched for South Africa’s biggest-ever deal – with an estimated R1 trillion price tag – at a secret meeting in the Drakensberg on Thursday.

The Witness can reveal that 50 South African experts – including its nuclear chief, Zizamele Mbambo – grilled officials from Russia’s state atomic energy company, Rosatom, at a secretive four-day conference at the Champagne Sports Resort.

secrets-liesSecrecy

 Officials initially denied that Rosatom was present, and the secrecy blanket included the omission of the firm’s name from all workshop materials.

However, a Witness reporter gained access to one key meeting for 15 minutes before being ejected, and also traced the name of the South African head of Rosatom to a chalet at the hotel. Rosatom officials pitched eight of their “VVER” pressurised water reactors for South Africa’s massive “nuclear build” programme.

It is intended to add 9 600 megawatts to the grid by 2030.

In an interview at the hotel, Mbambo said a French company was expected to pitch six of its slightly larger reactors at a similar conference.

The Russians were given the opportunity to present the first workshop in which to “parade” their offering, and France and China are set to follow later.

However, Mbambo revealed that other invited countries – including South Korea and the US – could potentially miss out on consideration if their presentations were not ready in terms of an unspecified deadline.

‘Window dressing’

Echoing the concerns of unions and accountability watchdogs, the DA last week alleged that the secretive workshops with various countries were “window dressing”, and that “all evidence points to a done deal with the Russians”.

This follows the revelation that President Jacob Zuma had struck a private agreement with Putin in August, and a statement by Rosatom in September that a deal for “actual joint construction” had been struck with the South African government.

The department of energy later said the statement had been “misunderstood”, and Mbambo on Thursday said: “No vendor has been chosen, and the procurement process has not yet begun.”………

The event was so secretive that the name “Rosatom” did not appear on any conference badges or place cards, and Russian officials also refused to confirm who they were when they were questioned about their identities.

But two members of the Russian delegation wore “Rosatom” golf shirts at the breakfast buffet, and The Witness established that Rosatom’s Vladimir Polikarpov was staying in chalet 27.

An energy department official later confirmed they were the bidding vendor………http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Secret-nuclear-deal-talks-held-in-KZN-20141024

October 25, 2014 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa a juicy target for the nuclear reactor marketers

flag-S.AfricaState shops for ‘nuclear vendor’ IOL October 20 2014  Cape Town – The government has confirmed it is shopping around for its nuclear build programme and says it is consulting “nuclear vendors” in the US, South Korea, Russia, France, Japan and China.

 

marketig-nukes

The announcement by the Department of Energy yesterday comes weeks of controversy about the multibillion-rand nuclear project since it emerged last month that a R1-trillion agreement had been signed with Russia, followed by another with France.

The department said the government was consulting “nuclear vendor countries” with pressurised water reactor nuclear technology, similar to that used at Koeberg………

DA leader Helen Zille has said the nuclear co-operation agreement with France, signed by Joemat-Pettersson on Wednesday, is nothing more than a “decoy”.

“This is… to muddy the waters and divert attention from the Russian deal negotiated by President (Jacob) Zuma and signed by Minister Joemat-Pettersson last month.

“We are led to believe a similar agreement with the Chinese is next and that a proper procurement process has yet to begin, but all evidence points to a done deal with the Russians. No amount of obfuscation can allow our focus to shift from this.” – Cape Times http://www.iol.co.za/business/companies/state-shops-for-nuclear-vendor-1.1767746#.VEcGcSJ4pBE

October 21, 2014 Posted by | marketing, South Africa | Leave a comment

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