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South African research institutions paid hush money to shut up about nuclear power

Eskom funding may be muffling dissenting voices on nuclear amaBhungane  Centre for Investigative Journalism, 28 Apr 17,  The lure of millions in Eskom funding appears to have gagged two research institutions previously critical of the utility’s nuclear procurement plans. The lure of millions in Eskom funding appears to have muzzled two research institutions previously highly critical of the state-owned utility’s plans to procure a fleet of nuclear power stations.

In the case of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) amaBhungane understands that the CSIR’s Energy Centre has been effectively gagged since a secrecy-shrouded meeting in March this year between acting Eskom CEO Matshela Koko and his counterpart at the CSIR, Dr Thulani Dlamini.

In the other case, the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES) at Stellenbosch University withdrew comments it had submitted for publication that were highly critical of Eskom’s nuclear plans.

In an email seen by amaBhungane, CRSES director Wikus van Niekerk said: “We receive significant funding from Eskom, some from a programme where Matshela is personally involved in, and I need to be careful how I react in public not to put this at risk.”……..

Case 1: CSIR Energy Centre

Several industry insiders, who asked not to be named, raised the alarm after the CSIR Energy Centre’s head, Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz, suddenly pulled out of an event on South Africa’s future energy supply in early April.

They told amaBhungane that a strong rumour had emerged that at Koko’s March meeting with the CSIR chief executive, Eskom had pledged a significant sum – R100 million was mentioned – for CSIR research on technology related to nuclear energy.
AmaBhungane was unable to independently verify the claim.

While there is no evidence of any untoward quid-pro-quo, the same sources noted that the Energy Centre has withdrawn from other public engagements on renewable energy and South Africa’s future energy mix.

Adding to suspicions is the reluctance of both Eskom and the CSIR to disclose any detail of the meeting between Koko and Dr Dlamini.

Both institutions declined to answer questions about who attended the meeting, what was discussed and whether Koko offered the CSIR additional funding, as rumoured……..

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe said Eskom had R30.8 million worth of “multi-year collaborative projects” underway with CSIR and another R17.5 million worth were “actively under consideration”.

The CSIR insisted the organisation “did NOT receive any payments from Eskom in order to stop any research that we are conducting,” but ignored questions about Bischof-Niemz’s non-attendance at the April event where he was scheduled to give a presentation on renewable energy.

Up to now the Energy Centre has been vocal about its research on South Africa’s optimal energy mix, which suggested that the price of renewables had dropped to the point where government’s plan to procure 9,600 MW of nuclear power did not make financial sense.

…….

Case No 2: CRSES Stellenbosch

The CSIR is not the only research institution that Eskom channels money to. The Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES) at Stellenbosch University is another, and it too seems wary of upsetting Eskom.

Email correspondence seen by amaBhungane suggests that the independent research institute is willing to self-censor for fear of offending its funder.

The correspondence between CRSES director Wikus van Niekerk and the staff of Energize magazine – an energy sector trade publication – concerns a submission written by Van Niekerk that is strongly critical of Eskom’s nuclear plans.

After submitting the draft to the editors, Van Niekerk then refused to have it published as a standalone piece. In the correspondence Van Niekerk writes that “We [CRSES] receive significant funding from Eskom, some from a programme where Matshela [Koko] is personally involved in, and I need to be careful how I react in public not to put this at risk.”

According to Eskom, CRSES received R2.6 million in 2016 from Eskom’s Power Plant Engineering Institute, with planned funding for this year projected at around R4 million. CRSES receives additional funding from Eskom’s Research, Testing and Development business unit for R2.5 million photovoltaic penetration study……..

Joemat-Pettersson had previously ordered Eskom to sign the outstanding agreements by 11 April. However, under Mmamoloko Kubayi, who replaced Joemat-Pettersson after Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet reshuffle, the deadline passed without agreements being signed.

Talk of the nuclear deal has revved up since Zuma’s highly controversial reshuffle, which many see as an attempt by the president to remove ministers – particularly at Treasury and the Department of Energy – seen as obstacles to a future deal.

The DoE under Kubayi asked that signing of power purchase agreements be delayed until she could meet with public enterprises minister Lynne Brown on the matter.

Meanwhile the investments of 37 independent power producers, worth approximately R58 billion, remain plagued by uncertainty.http://amabhungane.co.za/article/2017-04-28-exclusive-eskom-funding-may-be-muffling-dissenting-voices-on-nuclear

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April 29, 2017 - Posted by | investigative journalism, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa

1 Comment »

  1. […] Fonte: South African research institutions paid hush money to shut up about nuclear power « nuclear-news […]

    Pingback by South African research institutions paid hush money to shut up about nuclear power « nuclear-news – HISTÓRIA da POLÍTICA | April 30, 2017 | Reply


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