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South Africa’s foolish gamble with nuclear power

The time for us to stand up and put South Africa first is now. We have to oppose the nuclear deal now. We have to stand up and defend the integrity of the Treasury team now..

nukefools-dayflag-S.AfricaNuclear deal is nothing but a fool’s gamble with our future  Times Live 23 Oct 16 

Jay Naidoo opposes the Zuma cabinet’s controversial power plans. Here’s why.

At the heart of the cancerous rot in our state is the greed of a predatory faction. In their unceasing efforts to enrich themselves, they are targeting the management of mega-projects, our state-owned enterprises, government procurements and, in particular, the proposed nuclear deal.

This is a nuclear deal that we don’t need. The proposal has little to do with our energy security, given that our growth projections have been torpedoed by a rudderless leadership and policy uncertainty and do not match the energy requirements of our future economy.

It brings no long-term benefits of job creation or local industrial development – this in a country where already one in four South Africans are formally unemployed.  A more efficient economy is one that is first and foremost based on reducing waste (demand), then on diversity in its sources (supply).

Going with the nuclear option – at a time when most of the industrialised world is abandoning fossil fuels and nuclear energy – with all its inherent environmental threats and risks, is a fool’s gamble. We see major global financial investment rapidly switching to the renewables industry, specifically to solar-based solutions.

One has to ask: which serious observer can believe there is no political agenda in pushing nuclear energy so strongly?

In a clear case of curious timing, on the very day that frivolous charges were read out on national TV against Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson announced that the nuclear build – which we don’t need or want – would be led by Eskom – which we don’t trust or believe – and would not need the permission of the National Treasury.

In my mind, the current team at the Treasury stands between the predatory elite and the state coffers. Let us examine the facts.

In the next 10 years, rapidly growing renewable energy sources all over the world will add more than 100 nuclear reactors’ worth of electricity. This assumes no advances in wind, solar, geothermal and biomass efficiency – and if we assume that rapid innovation in technology will continue apace, major advances will be made.

Coal-fired and nuclear mega-projects are always expensive, behind schedule and way beyond their original cost estimates. One just needs to look at our experience with the Medupi and Kusile coal-fired power stations.

So let’s ask ourselves the following big question: why are renewables growing faster than nuclear everywhere, including in the US, China, Japan and Europe?

This is happening not just because of militant environmental groups or community action, even though these are important. The real answers lie in three factors: Risk. Cost. Time.

It is also the start of a massive divestment movement that is only going to increase in speed. As Michael Bloomberg said at the Paris climate meeting: the money is moving

In terms of jobs, investment in renewables is about 300% more effective than fossil fuels or nuclear. This is what the Pear Energy team headed by Robert Pollin, a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, had to say: “The basic facts are simple. When we invest $1-million [R14-million] in building the green economy in the United States, it creates 17 jobs, compared to five in nuclear and fossil fuels.

“That’s 300% more jobs. And it reduces our dependence on dirty and dangerous oil, coal, natural gas and nuclear power.”……..

Be it through a basic added tax put directly on carbon emissions or via a cap-and-trade approach where polluters pay per level of emissions, there is no doubt anymore: it will happen. More than two-thirds of Africa’s population, 700 million people, live without electricity.

On a continent where we have more than 300 days of sunlight a year, we shouldn’t hesitate for a second about the use of solar in all its forms. That’s why Nigeria is investing in solar mini-grids and Kenya is leading the way in geothermal energy.

The investment we can drive to an energy mix that will maximise our greatest assets – the ever-present sunshine and the potential of solar power, our hydro, wind and geothermal potential – will have long-lasting effects on our workforce and our overall economy.

These are the game-changers in delivering South Africa’s energy security………..The time for us to stand up and put South Africa first is now. We have to oppose the nuclear deal now. We have to stand up and defend the integrity of the Treasury team now……


October 24, 2016 - Posted by | general

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