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Nuclear energy now looks like a dud for South Africa

radiation-sign-sadStudy pours cold water on South Africa’s nuclear build plan BUSNESS DAY LIVE, BY CAROL PATON, 19 APRIL 2013, NEW National Planning Commission (NPC) modelling of South Africa’s energy demands says nuclear power should be delayed by years, and an immediate commissioning of flag-S.Africanew gas-generation capacity should take place to avoid rolling blackouts in the near future.

The remodelling commissioned by the NPC signals the start in earnest of what will be a highly contested policy debate: whether South Africa needs and can afford nuclear power or not, and by when.

The implication of the modelling is that no new nuclear power would be required before at least 2029, but more likely as far away as 2040 if demand grows as expected. It had been envisaged that new nuclear power would come on line in 2023.

It also means the Department of Energy should act promptly to procure imported liquefied gas and gas power stations to avoid blackouts in the highly likely event of delays to the completion of Eskom’s Medupi and Kusile coal-fired power stations.

The commission’s initiative in undertaking the modelling comes in the wake of a delay in the revision of the department’s Integrated Resource Plan 2010 (IRP2010), which should be updated every two years.

Department director-general Nelisiwe Magubane told Parliament’s energy portfolio committee this week that the IRP2010 would not be updated before the end of the year as it depended on finalising a broader energy plan.

The modelling exercise, undertaken on behalf of the commission by the Energy Research Centre at the University of Cape Town, said such a delay in updating the IRP2010 could be disastrous.Ignoring this new information and fixing decisions, including a large nuclear roll-out of large units, on an outdated plan is going to be very costly to the economy.

“The analysis shows that even in a higher-demand (scenario), new capacity in nuclear is only required in 2029 and not in 2023 as per the IRP2010. This means there is more time to make a decision about nuclear and it is by no means a matter of urgency,” the report said…….


The report on the modelling argued that many of the assumptions on which the IRP2010 was based are out of date.

First, it said, growth in energy demand has been much slower than expected due to the slowdown in economic growth as well as rising electricity prices, which have dampened demand and encouraged energy saving. While the IRP2010 recommended an installed capacity of 89GW by 2030, the new power plan suggests 61GW might be sufficient…..


The second assumption the report said is out of date is about costs for energy inputs, which have changed significantly since the IRP2010 was finalised. In particular, it said, nuclear costs are a lot higher now — at $7,000/kW — compared to $5,000/kW when the IRP2010 was modelled. New data are also available on renewable energy and gas sources.

The updated assumptions change the recommended energy mix significantly.

They suggest that new capacity between 2025 and 2030 be dominated by gas, with solar, thermal, wind and imported electricity meeting the remaining requirements.

The earliest at which nuclear power might be required is 2029, but the more likely scenario — based on the lower demand growth — would be no new nuclear before 2040.

Even then, other low-emission alternatives to nuclear capacity could be installed at lower cost with shorter lead times…… The department said it would respond to questions but at the time of going to press it had not yet done so.


April 20, 2013 - Posted by | business and costs, South Africa

1 Comment »

  1. Reblogged this on NuclearVox.

    Comment by NuclearVox | April 21, 2013 | Reply

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