The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Financial problems for South Africa in planned nuclear deal

nukes-hungryflag-S.AfricaNuclear economist warns SA will ‘run into problems’ BY CAROL PATON, 19 SEPTEMBER 2014,  SA’s last tender to build nuclear power stations was canned in 2008 after credit rating agencies made it clear that they would downgrade Eskom to junk if it went ahead, Steve Thomas of the University of Greenwich said in a lecture on nuclear economics at the University of Cape Town on Thursday.

Details of Eskom’s nuclear tender in 2006 have not been fully disclosed, except that Eskom dropped it for being too expensive.

Eskom had expected a construction price of $2,500/kW but bids came in at $6,000/kW. It was also made clear, said Prof Thomas, that ratings agencies demanded “unconditional, timely guarantees” across all Eskom’s debt stock for it to maintain its credit rating.

Prof Thomas, visiting as guest of antinuclear lobby group EarthLife, said he expected SA’s nuclear endeavour to run into the same problems. Financing of nuclear projects had become highly risky and was regarded as credit-negative by ratings agencies.

“In the past, financing was not a problem. Utilities were blue-chip stock. They built plants and the costs were passed on to consumers. From a banking point of view this was ideal,” he said.

But accidents such as Chernobyl had led to increased costs in nuclear construction as additional safety measures must be included. Cost and time overruns had led banks to see nuclear power as too risky.

New regulatory approaches, in which prices are set by an independent regulator that assesses their fairness, have made it more difficult for utilities to pass on price increases to consumers.

“Of 70 nuclear power plants under construction, 50 are significantly late and the odds are against you to build to time and cost. So if banks won’t take the risk, then consumers must. But regulators are less likely to say consumers should sign a blank cheque. “For most countries that is not a viable option,” he said.

The remaining option was for taxpayers to provide the guarantees, should the nuclear vendor or utility go bankrupt.

n the UK, where a new plant is under construction at Hinkley Point, the British government has provided £10bn in loan guarantees, equal to 62% of the estimated cost.

“Unless SA consumers or taxpayers can guarantee the loan, a nuclear deal will not be financeable.”

September 20, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s nuclear power plans clouded in secret deals


The Cabinet subcommittee on energy security is deep into the technical work needed to procure a massive nuclear fleet. Key to the procurement going ahead will be the financing arrangements, as the construction of nuclear plants has enormous capital costs.

While the Nuclear Energy Policy for SA of 2008 designates Eskom as the “owner and operator of nuclear power plants in SA”, department acting director-general Wolsey Barnard said recently that both Eskom’s financial circumstances and the availability of alternative financing arrangements for energy meant this would have to change.

“The nuclear policy has not yet changed, but what needs to be realised is that the financial position of Eskom has deteriorated since 2008 and to expose Eskom to such a project at this stage would not be sustainable. ……..

Insufficient consultation

Though the government feels confident that public opinion has been taken into account, neither business nor labour agrees that consultation has been sufficient.

The National Development Plan urged caution on nuclear power, saying other options — such as natural gas — should be explored first.

Business Unity SA (Busa) acting CEO Cas Coovadia said “an effective debate on our energy options in the long term” was urgently required. Busa is working to draft an energy policy both for SA’s immediate and long-term needs, he said.

National Union of Mineworkers general secretary Frans Baleni, whose union is a leading opponent of nuclear energy in the Congress of South African Trade Unions, said the union was dead-against nuclear power over safety and cost issues.

“As a country we have not had a dialogue on nuclear power. The process is not transparent and will be easily corrupted. It will make the arms deal look like a Sunday picnic. And the National Development Plan (NDP) is not positive on nuclear. Government can’t pick and choose on the NDP; if they do it is not a plan,” said Mr Baleni……….

Eskom spokesman on nuclear power Tony Stott. said there would be another opportunity for comment through the National Nuclear Regulator’s and Nersa’s licensing processes.

However, these will be long after the contracting is completed.

September 17, 2014 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s very suspect plan for vendor-financed nuclear power

flag-S.Africa A nuclear tale that sounds too good to be true Business Day BY CAROL PATON, 15 SEPTEMBER 2014, BUILD now, pay much later. That is the good news story about nuclear energy being told to SA’s decision-makers. In this model, a nuclear vendor and a financier — usually the government of the country of the vendor or a state-owned enterprise or bank — come as a package. The loan from the financier is repaid from the electricity tariff over the long term, 15 to 20 years, and repayments begin when electricity is produced.

This is the simple picture, which has given rise to the perhaps apocryphal story in which a very senior member of the executive told Treasury officials after meeting his Russian counterparts: “We don’t need to pay for it!”

The vendor-financed option has made the scary R1-trillion price tag, wielded by Department of Energy and Treasury officials as a warning to their political principals, disappear in a puff of smoke. The nuclear option appears even more attractive when vendors move onto the next part of the story: as operating costs for nuclear energy are low, and the expense lies in construction, once the loan is repaid, energy becomes a virtual “cash cow” for the operator, and any private investors, for up to 30 years………

The clear frontrunners in this are French company Areva and Russian state-owned enterprise Rosatom. Both offer technology and finance in one package, with some differences. At the heart of both is a power purchase agreement in which the operator of the grid, Eskom, would make an irrevocable commitment to purchase the electricity at an agreed tariff………

An important part of the financing package for vendors interested in SA is the government’s commitment in the nuclear policy of 2008 to a fleet approach. Vendors are able to offer better prices if a fleet of reactors is procured as they get better at building them. Some vendors will not consider SA at all without a fleet procurement.


This is what lies behind SA’s curious decision in the IRP 2010, SA’s electricity plan, to include 9,600MW of nuclear power in the energy mix. This would amount to a fleet of six Areva reactors (or more, if other vendors with smaller reactors are selected). As electricity demand is far from certain, and has not grown as expected over the past two years or more, overbuilding capacity is a risk.

Independent analysts, such as Prof Harald Winkler of the University of Cape Town, argue that even a nuclear fleet would be more expensive than other options and would lock SA into even higher electricity prices with negative effects on the economy.

Costs such as insurance in the event of a nuclear accident, dealing with the waste, and decommissioning the plant, are not built into the construction prices.

The conclusion of all of this is that the magnitude of the government guarantees required in a R400bn-R800bn nuclear plant building exercise remain very difficult to estimate. Whatever the size of the guarantee and its purpose — for construction or as a guarantee to purchase the power — it would have to find its way onto SA’s contingent liabilities……..

Despite the good “build now, pay later” message being punted by nuclear vendors, the probability is that it will be business and consumers that not only pay later, but pay much more.


September 17, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

On costs and safety, solar energy far better than nuclear, for South Africa

flag-S.AfricaNuclear plan incomprehensible Liz McDaid AUGUST 05 2014 THE Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (Safcei) shares the government and Eskom’s commitment to service the energy needs of the country and the poor in particular. We therefore find the growing emphasis on and commitment to nuclear energy incomprehensible on economic and moral grounds.

Following Eskom’s revelations to Parliament at the end of last month, Safcei believes that, financially, we cannot afford nuclear energy and calls on the Cabinet to abolish the nuclear focus and expand its renewable energy programme.

According to Eskom, 60% of our power stations are older than the recommended design age of 30 years, resulting in increased breakdowns and need for maintenance.

Life extensions and environmental retrofits will require between R50bn and R260bn. Eskom is looking to claw back additional revenue through more electricity tariff increases. Yet poor communities struggle to afford electricity right now.

According to Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa, we will find additional finances to build new nuclear energy plants. Given that the cost of nuclear has been put at R1-trillion, who will provide the money?

By contrast, globally, a record of 39GW of new solar photovoltaic capacity was installed last year, which required less financing than in 2012, when only 31GW was deployed. In South Africa, renewable energy plants have added 1,300MW to the grid in just less than two years (with a further 1,200MW expected by end of next year.).

As people of faith, we express our deep concern that our public policies are not in line with the best options for preserving our natural environment, saving energy and alleviating poverty. Safcei believes therefore that there is an ethical imperative to expand renewable energy, which is cheaper to build, has zero fuel costs and can provide sustainable, affordable energy for the people of South Africa.

Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown says she is hoping to appoint a CEO for Eskom in the next few weeks. If the government is serious about addressing the Eskom crisis, it needs to direct the utility to abandon 19th-century thinking and catch up with the 21st century.

We therefore call on Ms Brown to appoint someone who can consider the long-term energy needs of the country. Appointing a renewable energy expert as a CEO would be a good first step.


August 7, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, South Africa | Leave a comment

Anti uranium protest in Johannesburg South Africa


Whilst the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) public hearings on the guidelines for the electricity reseller tariffs were ongoing inside Gallagher convention centre today, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and different community based organisations were demonstrating their frustrations over the unreasonably high electricity tariffs charged by Eskom and its many electricity resellers outside the venue.“…………..protesters are concerned that South African consumers are not seeing the promised investment in social infrastructure because of the huge national debt being accumulated by Eskom. But one of the reasons for the debt is the cheap electricity supply deal that the power utility holds with Australian company BHB Billiton resulting in losses estimated at more than R11.5 billion. Lerato Maragele, Education and Outreach Officer at Earthlife Africa Jhb, explains that: “NERSA must investigate and widely publicise how lost Eskom revenue translates into electricity tariff increases for households.”

Thirdly, protesters are concerned by NERSA’s apparent inactivity on Eskom’s failure to build electricity power stations to budget and on time, and the resultant electricity price increases. “The mandate of NERSA is to promote the protection of the interests of vulnerable groups within the Electricity Supply Industry. The delays at Medupi and Kusile are causing a ripple effect throughout the whole supply chain and impacting on the most vulnerable consumers,” explains Dominique Doyle, Energy Policy Officer at Earthlife Africa Johannesburg.


Earthlife Africa Johannesburg:
Makoma Lekalakala
Senior Programme Manager
Tel (w): 011 339 3662
Mobile: 082 682 9177
Email: makoma [at]
Dominique Doyle
Energy Policy Officer
Tel (w): 011 339 3662
Mobile: 079 331 2028
Email: dominique [at]

July 23, 2014 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Africa | Leave a comment

Living on a radioactive uranium dump

uranium-oreWhat does uranium do?

When uranium is ingested it is deposited in the kidneys, lungs, brain and bone marrow. The alpha particles – which contain massive doses of energy – sit in these parts and damage the tissue around them. Because it is an endocrine disrupter, it increases the risk of fertility problems and reproductive cancer. Large doses are fatal, but the constant exposure to low levels has intergenerational effects that are still not fully understood

flag-S.AfricaOne man’s home is another man’s uranium dump, Mail & Guardian, Africa 18 JUL 2014 SIPHO KINGS With nowhere else to live, many seek refuge in the radiation wastelands in Gauteng, unaware of the deadly dangers the abandoned mining areas present……..Faded photographs in the town museum show people sunbathing and swimming in the lake in the 1980s. There were bars, a jetty and a miniature putting course. Now only the foundations remain after it was closed because of the increasing concentration of uranium in Robinson Lake.

In the past it was a place for the residents of Randfontein – 50km west of Johannesburg – to relax on the weekend and forget their jobs in the mining industry. But in the late 1990s the underground mines started closing because the falling price of gold and uranium made them unprofitable. The mines were abandoned and the water levels inside started rising. Acid mine drainage began seeping into the dam, increasing the level of uranium to levels 220 times higher than the safe limit. The resort closed.

Deep into winter a chill breeze blows across the lake, creating ripples in the clear water. The surface is a stark blue reflection of the sky, with the bottom tainted red from the heavy metals in the water. No alga grow here, no fish swim, no underwater life ripples the surface.

The periphery of the lake is a wide ring of cracked yellow earth. The soil beyond is brown. There are 20m-high blue gum trees. There are yellow signs with “Radiation area – Supervised area” wired to the fence around the area and nailed to the trees.

Gold seam
The Witwatersrand gold seam runs for about 100km, from Randfontein in the west of Johannesburg to Springs in the east. A century of mining drove a mining boom, thanks to this being the world’s largest concentration of the precious metal.

Mine shafts up to 3km deep were sunk. The waste was dumped above ground in over 400 mine dumps or tailings dams that now dot the province. These contain a mixture of heavy metals, and an estimated 600 000 tonnes of uranium.

The Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa) says this is the only place in the world where large numbers of people live next to dumps full of uranium. Continue reading

July 19, 2014 Posted by | environment, South Africa, Uranium | Leave a comment

Total costs of nuclear power make it uneconomic for South Africa

Long time frames and dodgy numbers justify worry about nuclear power’s cost, Business Report, South
Africa  June 10 2014 By Yvette Abraam 

“………My chief objection to nuclear power is precisely on the cost issue……….from 2008 to early 2010 nuclear costs were stated to be twice as much by nuclear power vendors than by the state. By early 2011, after a multitude of submissions by civil society, even the state admitted that it had undercosted nuclear power by about 40 percent and included a new estimate. The new estimate remained substantially lower than the two tenders submitted by suppliers.

Yet the amount of nuclear energy planned in the IRP II remains unchanged, despite the variation in costs. International experience rates the cost of constructing nuclear plants at about $6 000 (R63 500) per kilowatt hour.

The South African energy planning process calculated this cost as $3 000 in 2010 and $4 300 in 2011 – on what basis remains a mystery.

The second problem with assembling a budget for nuclear procurement is that the costs of waste disposal and decommissioning are of the same order as the cost of construction, but are beset by large uncertainties. For example, in the 2007/08 annual report and accounts of nuclear power generator British Energy, it was estimated the cost of decommissioning its eight plants was £9.4 billion (R167bn) and the cost of disposing of the spent fuel was £5.5bn.

Although we can estimate the order of magnitude, the actual costs are affected by the choice of technology. As such, it is important to include these costs in a tender since they deeply affect the final choice of bidder. So far these costs have not been included in South African energy planning.

As far as the cost of waste disposal is concerned, it has to be borne in mind that these costs have to be borne for a minimum of two and a half centuries before the waste can safely be neglected. Even a very small error in calculation can lead to very large divergences across this timespan. Under conventional accounting procedure, liabilities that must be met in the future should be discounted.


Effectively, this means that a sum of money (or assets of that value) is set aside now and it is assumed that money will earn interest and grow to meet the liability……..What happens if, as is the case in Germany and Japan, the interest rate is negative? It would mean we have to set aside more money now than will be required in the future.

This example demonstrates the point that the really difficult part of nuclear energy planning is that the amount it is going to cost is not knowable. Calculating the net present value of a 250-year expenditure would require that we could foresee the interest rate and the inflation rate for the next 250 years. But we are citizens, not soothsayers. Anybody who tells you they can predict these costs is talking through their hat. To any suggestion that we should give the approval anyway and trust officials to prevent any unreasonable cost overruns, I have but one word: Nkandla.


* Dr Yvette Abrahams works in the department of women and gender studies at University of the Western Cape and with Electricity Governance Initiative South Africa.

June 12, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, South Africa | Leave a comment

Will Australia’s scientifically illiterate government be sucked in to buying Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)?

In 2014, it was becoming clear that Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) were not likely to become an operational reality for many decades — and perhaps never.

America was the pioneer of small reactor design in the 1970s.  Again recently, Westinghouse and Babcock and Wilcox have been the leaders in designing and developing SMRs.

But in 2014, the bottom has fallen out of these projects………..

It should be noted that nowhere in [the original article about China, does the author]  Chen mention “small” reactors. However, Australian proponents of ‘small’ reactors welcomed this article, as the Thorium Small Nuclear Reactor is the favourite type proposed for Australia from all 15 possible small designs.

So, while we’re being told that China is racing ahead in the scramble to get these wonderful SMRs, in fact, China has been very much encouraged and helped into this by the U.S. Department of Energy.

This is understandable, seeing that for China it is a government project, with no required expectation of being commercially viable.

In their enthusiasm for China’s thorium nuclear project, writers neglected to mention the sobering points that Stephen Chen made in his South China Morning Post article, such as:

  • Researchers working on the project said they were under unprecedented ‘war-like’ pressure to succeed and some of the technical challenges they faced were difficult, if not impossible to solve.’
  • ‘… opposition from sections of the Chinese public.’
  • ‘… technical difficulties – the molten salt produces highly corrosive chemicals  that could damage the reactor.’
  • ‘The power plant would also have to operate at extremely high temperatures, raising concerns about safety. In addition, researchers have limited knowledge of how to use thorium.’
  • ‘… engineering difficulties .…The thorium reactors would need years, if not decades, to overcome the corrosion issue.’
  • ‘These projects are beautiful to scientists, but nightmarish to engineers.’……….

Australia’s SMR enthusiasts discount the known problems of SMRs. Some brief reminders from the September 2013 report, from the United States’ Institute for Energy and Environmental Research:

  • ‘Economics: $90 billion manufacturing order book could be required for mass production of SMRs …the industry’s forecast of relatively inexpensive individual SMRs is predicated on major orders and assembly line production.’
  • ‘SMRs will lose the economies of scale of large reactors.’
  •  ‘SMRs could reduce some safety risks but also create new ones.’
  • ‘It breaks, you bought it: no thought is evident on how to handle SMR recalls.’
  • Not a proliferation solution. ‘The use of enriched uranium or plutonium in thorium fuel has proliferation implications.’
  • Not a waste solution: ‘The fission of thorium creates long-lived fission products like technetium-99 (half-life over 200,000 years).’
  • Ongoing technical problems. ……….,6404

April 22, 2014 Posted by | South Africa, spinbuster | 3 Comments

Death and disease among uranium workers in Rio Tinto’s mines

uranium-oreUranium workers dying after time at Namibia mine, report warns

Miners who dug ore to supply the military found to be dying of cancers and other illnesses at Rio Tinto’s Rössing mine  Miners who dug uranium ore that supplied the British and US military in the 1970s with the raw material for bombs and civil nuclear power are reported to be dying of cancers and unexplained illnesses after working in one of Africa‘s largest mines.

A study based on questionnaires of current and former workers at the giant Rio Tinto-owned Rössing uranium mine in Namibia says that everyone questioned was aware of people who are now suffering lung infections and unknown illnesses thought to be linked to their work.

The mine, in the Namib desert, produces around 7% of the world’s uranium but was operated with rudimentary safety when it opened in 1976. “People get sick. We are seeing it in people that have worked for Rössing for a long time. They just go back and die after working at Rössing,” one man told researchers working with Earthlife Namibia and the Labour Resource and Research Institute.

The study, which is expected to be published this week, accepts that working conditions in the mine have greatly improved but says that all workers questioned said that they were exposed to high levels of dust.

“Two current workers are on sick leave since 2000 and 2003. One worked as a laboratory technician for 24 years and claims to have proof he was radiated,” says a summary of the paper seen by the Guardian.

Rössing, which mines millions of tonnes of rock a year to extract uranium, employs more than 1,500 people. “Most workers stated that they are not informed about their health conditions and do not know if they have been exposed to radiation or not. Some workers said they consulted a private doctor to get a second opinion,” say the authors.

“The older workers all said they know miners dying of cancers and other illnesses. Many of these are now retired and many have already died of cancers,” says the report.

Aerial view of the discharge channels from Rössing, the world’s largest opencast uranium mine. Photograph: Yann Arthus-Bertrand/CorbisA spokesman for Rio Tinto said that Rössing has been recognised by independent consultants as one of the world’s safest mines. “The health and safety of our employees is the top priority. We have health management systems in place to make sure that everyone goes home safe and healthy every day. Effective controls ensure that radiation exposures to employees are kept well below the Rössing standard for occupational radiation exposure.

“The company keeps detailed records of the health status of its workforce from the day of employment to the day they leave the company. It therefore does not need to speculate on health issues of its employees.”

One former worker said: “Yes, I have cancer now. In the beginning they [Rio Tinto] did not want to give money for the treatment but later when they referred me to a doctor for an operation they gave me money for treatment.”

“Doctors were told not to inform us with our results or tell our illness. They only supply you with medications when you are totally finished up or about to die,” said another.

During the first years of operation, Rössing operated with a migrant labour system which the International Commission of Jurists declared illegal and said was similar to slavery. Black workers lived on the mine premises and were exposed to dust and radiation 24 hours a day and the mine became the focus for protests by anti-apartheid and anti-nuclear groups.

Shares in the mine are owned 69% by UK-based Rio Tinto, and 15% by the government of Iran. The Namibian government has denied supplying Iran with Namibian uranium which could be used for nuclear weapons.

The Erongo region is home to Rössing mine, the oldest and third-largest producer of uranium in the world. The mine sustains the small satellite town (population 7,600) of Arandis, which is visible near the top of the image. Photograph: ALI/EO-1/NASA“Uranium companies generally deny that workers get sick because of exposure to radiation. They blame the bad health conditions to unhealthy lifestyles such as eating habits, tobacco smoking and alcohol,” says the study.

Former Rössing mineworkers and people from communities adversely affected by Rio Tinto mines in west Papua, Madagascar, Namibia, Mongolia and the US will petition Rio Tinto shareholders at Tuesday’s annual meeting in London.

“Rio Tinto is enormous. Its history of attacks on workers’ rights, and environmental destruction has had a particularly damaging impact across the world,” said Richard Solly, co-ordinator of LondonMining Network, an alliance of human rights, development, environmental and solidarity groups.

April 16, 2014 Posted by | AFRICA, health, South Africa, Uranium | 1 Comment

South Africa’s growth in renewable energy

Africa: South Africa to Procure Still More Renewable Energy APRIL 2014 South Africa’s Department of Energy is to increase the amount of energy it will be procuring under the third window of its renewable energy programme for independent power producers, Energy Minister Ben Martins announced on Tuesday.

In November, the department signed agreements with 17 new preferred bidders in the third round of the programme, following the signing off of 47 projects in the first and second rounds, bringing to 64 the total number of renewable energy projects approved by the government since December 2011.

Once they are all operational, the 64 projects – representing foreign and domestic investment of over R100-billion – will add around 3 900 megawatts (MW) of wind, solar photovoltaic and concentrating solar power to South Africa’s energy mix.

On Tuesday, Martins said in a statement that this department would be allocating additional megawatts to the third window of the programme, thus including additional bidders, due to the increasingly competitive pricing offered by the round three bids.

Business Day reported in November that the average price offered for power generated from wind – which received the bulk of the third-round allocation – had dropped from R11.43 per kilowatt hour (kWh) in the first round to R6.65/kWh in the third round.

“The department will, in this regard, follow due procurement process to include additional bidders under window 3,” Martins said, giving no further specifics.

He added that submissions for the fourth window of the programme, which entails the procurement of a further 1 000 MW of renewable energy, was on track to close in August. The programme has five windows altogether.

While renewable energy accounted for less than 1% of South Africa’s energy mix in 2012, this is expected to reach 12% by 2020. According to research released in October by analysts Frost & Sullivan, this would place South Africa in the “global top 15 countries” with regard to the implementation of renewable energy projects.

Announcing the latest 17 preferred bidders in November, Martins noted that South Africa was currently rated as the 12th most attractive investment destination for renewable energy.

“This bodes very well for South Africa, as the programme has achieved international acclaim for fairness, transparency and certainty of programme,” Martins said, adding that there had been a progressive increase in the local content and job creation numbers offered by the bidders.

The department’s director-general, Nelly Magubane, said that some bidders had exceeded the local content requirement of no less than 40%, with some indicating that their projects would involve up to 56% local content.

Martins said the energy sector was expected to play a major role in creating green sector jobs, developing skills and transferring technology into South Africa’s economy.

April 16, 2014 Posted by | renewable, South Africa | Leave a comment

Employment boost for South Africa due to renewable energy projects

Green energy IPPs create 14 000 jobs April 14 2014  Independent power producers (IPPs) using renewable energy had created about 14 000 jobs over the past three years, Energy Minister Ben Martins said on Friday. “One of the imperatives of government is to ensure that all departments assist in job creation. Through the independent power producers programme, more than 14 000 have been created,” Martins said following a summit with 61 IPPs. “At the meeting, we acknowledged and expressed appreciation of the fact that to date more than R100 billion has been invested into this particular sector.” IPPs are entities which either own and or operate facilities that generate electric power. They then sell the power to a utility, central government buyer or to end users. The meeting was also attended by representatives of the Development Bank of Southern Africa, Eskom and the Public Investment Corporation. Diplomats representing Denmark, Spain, Germany, Norway, and the UK were also present at the Pretoria meeting. Martins said the IPP project had brought significant direct foreign investment. – Sapa

April 16, 2014 Posted by | employment, renewable, South Africa | Leave a comment

Nuclear power is getting just too expensive for South Africa

nuclear-costs1Nuclear development in South Africa likely on hold unless funds incorporated from private sector, Enformable Lucas W Hixson 19 Mar 14  South African President Jacob Zuma and Energy Minister Ben Martins have continuously committed the nation to build up a nuclear industry.

The government has adopted a 20-year Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) which says that coal, nuclear, hydro, shale gas, and renewable energy are all included in potential generation methods of increasing the nation’s power supply.  The IRP is revised every two years, the latest update proposes that the nation delay construction of more nuclear plants and instead focus more on coal, hydro and gas.

Energy Minister Martins has said that South Africa’s goal is to be self-sufficient in all aspects of the nuclear energy industry, but there are concerns about whether South Africa’s construction industry is even large enough to handle the additional resources and manpower which would be required.

President Zuma announced that the South African government would work to procure 9,600 MW of energy from nuclear power, based on the IRP released in 2010.  The new IRP said that little or no nuclear power will be required.

If President Zuma’s goal of installing 9,600 MW of nuclear energy, the government must find at least 1 trillion rand ($93.2 billion USD), to support a nuclear fleet of three new nuclear power plants in South Africa.

On Tuesday, Rob Adam, president of the Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa and director of the construction group Aveng, spoke at an energy conference in Johannesburg and told attendees that the government would likely be forced to incorporate funds from the private sector to invest in the nuclear industry in South Africa…….

Eskom is not currently fiscally stable enough to finance a nuclear power plant.  According to experts in South Africa, given the nation’s tight fiscal budget, it is extremely unlikely that the government would be able to allocate any funds for the proposed nuclear build.

The nuclear proposal is seemingly causing a rift in the South African government.  Some agencies like the departments of energy, public enterprises, trade and industry to name a few are big proponents of a nuclear build, while other agencies like the National Planning Commission and the treasury are concerned with the high costs of nuclear energy.

March 20, 2014 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Confusion and secrecy over costs of proposed nuclear energy for South Africa

secret-agent-SmCan we afford it?
The department’s nuclear costs study is understood to be complete, but the findings have not been made public.

flag-S.AfricaNuclear plan slips under budget radar Mail & Guardian, Africa, 28 FEB 2014  LIONEL FAULL If it goes ahead it will be SA’s largest contract ever, yet Pravin Gordhan failed to mention it.  Indications of policy confusion at the highest levels of the government were reinforced this week when the budget failed to build on President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation pronouncement that “we expect to conclude the procurement of 9 600MW of nuclear energy”.

The cost of 9 600MW of nuclear power has been estimated at anything between R400-billion and more than R1-trillion, and would dwarf any other tender in South Africa’s history.

In contrast with Zuma’s definitive pronouncement for the coming year, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan did not mention nuclear at all in his budget speech. He mentioned renewables four times, and shale gas exploration once.

Even the energy department, in the estimates of national expenditure that accompany the budget, did not commit to any looming procurement decisions. Continue reading

March 1, 2014 Posted by | South Africa | Leave a comment

One nation that abandoned nuclear weapons – South Africa

Unfortunately, South Africa is still the only state that has ever voluntarily dismantled its entire nuclear weapons capability. Nuclear states continue to do lip service to the goal of nuclear disarmament, but little has been achieved in practice. South Africa has illustrated that long-term security can be far better assured by the abrogation of nuclear weapons than by their retention.

flag-S.AfricaSouth Africa: Nation that gave up its nuclear arsenal The solution was not the acquisition of greater military power through the development of nuclear weapons but the abolition of apartheid  Gulf Times, F.W. de Klerk Former president of South Africa December 25, 2013It will be a mistake to think that the end of the Cold War also ended the threat posed by nuclear weapons. Nuclear-armed states continue to deploy huge arsenals of nuclear weapons, other states continue with their efforts to acquire nuclear weapons and there is the alarming possibility that such weapons may fall into the hands of terrorists. Accordingly, it may be helpful to consider the factors that led South Africa to develop nuclear weapons in the 1970s and the reasons why it decided to dismantle them in 1989…..

Soon after I became president in 1989, foreign minister Pik Botha urged me to take two key steps if we wished to improve South Africa’s relationship with the world: The first was to release Nelson Mandela and the second was to dismantle our nuclear weapons and accede to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT). Continue reading

December 27, 2013 Posted by | South Africa, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Russia aggressively marketing nuclear power to South Africa


the draft Russian agreement, which Business Day has seen, had a veto clause, which would allow the parties to block the involvement of a third country


Several countries are jockeying for position in South Africa’s nuclear build programme, which envisages the construction of three nuclear power plants to supply 9,600MW at the cost of at least R1-trillion. The government has said the procurement process is close to finalised and there is high expectation among bidders that it will go ahead next year.


This week, the temperature over the nuclear build was further heightened when state-owned Russian corporation Rosatom hosted a nuclear suppliers’ forum in Johannesburg “with the aim of establishing and developing lasting partnerships in South Africa”.

At the forum on Monday, a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa) and a Rosatom subsidiary. Continue reading

November 30, 2013 Posted by | marketing, Russia, South Africa | Leave a comment


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