South Africa: Court Orders Punitive Costs Against Minister in Nuclear Case http://allafrica.com/stories/201612150392.html By Ashleigh Furlong, 14 Dec 16 Minutes before hearing, ministry reveals new determination on nuclear energy
The Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson has been ordered by the Western Cape High Court to pay punitive costs including the costs of four counsel for Earthlife Africa and the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI) after the state brought forward new evidence minutes before the case was set to begin.
A court orders punitive costs usually when it is dissatisfied with the conduct of a litigant. This is rare and is considered a strong rebuke.
The respondents in the case are the Minister of Energy, the president, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) as well as two representatives from Parliament.
Yesterday, the case began with a postponement until February 2017, as it was revealed mere minutes before the hearing was to begin that the Minister had made a new nuclear energy determination – replacing a decision that was gazetted last December.
Part of the relief sought by Earthlife and SAFCEI was for the old decision to be declared invalid. They also want the court to declare invalid the agreement between South Africa and Russia, as well as the tabling in Parliament of the deals with the USA and Korea.
The new decision now states that Eskom, not the Department of Energy – as was the case in the old determination – will be the procurement agency for 9,600 megawatts of nuclear energy.
“Despite it being signed on 5 December 2016, the Court was not informed thereof and neither were the applicants – until literally minutes before the hearing was to begin. The Court stressed in its judgment that there was no evidence presented to the court explaining how this determination came about, when it was decided upon and the processes leading thereto, despite the Determination apparently having been made more than a week before the hearing,” says a statement issued by Earthlife and SAFCEI.
The South African Renewable Energy Council (SAREC) has also expressed concern over the new determination, saying that it was “seemingly rushed through” on the basis of “the very outdated Integrated Resource Plan published in 2010”.
“We are further disheartened by Eskom’s Acting CEO’s simultaneous announcement that the utility will release a nuclear Request for Proposals as soon as the determination is gazetted,” says Brenda Martin, Chair of SAREC in the statement.
“SAREC believes that this irrational behaviour fans the flames of suspicion as to the real motives behind the nuclear campaign. Facts, logic and basic financial prudence simply do not support this determination,” says the statement.
Earthlife and SAFCEI wanted the request for proposals to be halted until the court case was finalised. However, the court ruled that Eskom was allowed to go ahead with the process.
Nuclear RFI delayed once again Release postponed ‘to brief minister’. Money Web , Antoinette Slabbert / 15 December 2016 Moneyweb has just learnt that Eskom will not release the highly-anticipated nuclear Request for Information (RFI) on Thursday, despite widely-published undertakings by its acting CEO Matshela Koko to that effect.
According to South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) chair Dr Kelvin Kemm, the documents were signed off by him and Eskom chair Dr Ben Ngubane on Thursday morning and were ready for release. A further cooperation agreement between Eskom and Necsa was also signed.
Eskom and Necsa have been tasked by government to jointly manage the procurement of the country’s 9 600 MW new nuclear build programme.
Kemm said Eskom’s shareholder representative, public enterprise minister Lynne Brown, however requested a personal briefing on the matter, since she has not been closely involved in the nuclear procurement planning……http://www.moneyweb.co.za/news/industry/breaking-nuclear-rfi-delayed-once-again/
Earthlife Africa goes to court to halt SA’s bid for nuclear power http://www.heraldlive.co.za/news/2016/12/13/earthlife-africa-goes-court-halt-sas-bid-nuclear-power/
In a David versus Goliath battle which could determine the country’s energy future‚ an NGO will be in the Cape Town High Court on Tuesday to try halt government’s nuclear procurement deal.
In an affidavit submitted to the court‚ Earthlife Africa argues that government’s agreement with Russia to supply South Africa with multiple nuclear power plants is both unlawful and unconstitutional.
The procurement deal would be the largest in the country’s history at an estimated R1-trillion‚ and would see the building of a “nuclear fleet” that would generate nearly 10GW of power.
In September 2014‚ Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson signed an agreement with Russia on strategic partnership and cooperation in the fields of nuclear power and industry‚ which was then authorised by President Jacob Zuma.
The agreement was tabled before Parliament in June 2015.
In the affidavit‚ Earthlife branch coordinator Phillipine Lekalakala stated that the deal was unlawful‚ and should be reviewed and set aside. “The decision to proceed with procuring these nuclear power plants… has occurred without any of the necessary statutory and constitutional decisions having been lawfully taken‚” said Lekalakala.
“The minister and the National Energy Regulator of SA were obligated to have determined that new generation capacity is required and that the electricity must be generated from nuclear power in terms of the Energy Regulations Act (ERA).”
“No ERA requirement decision or ERA nuclear procurement system decision has been taken.”
The state opposed the application saying that the nuclear programme was a policy direction adopted by government to establish a self-sufficient nuclear industry for the industrialisation and development of the country.
The deputy director-general of the Department of Energy‚ Zizamele Mbambo‚ said that‚ as part of the nuclear programme‚ the energy and electricity needs of the country would be provided for.
“This policy direction allows the country to discharge its international obligation to reduce CO2 emissions from our historical fleet of coal-driven power stations‚” Mbambo said.
Earthlife and co-applicants in the matter‚ Southern African Faith Ministries’ Environment Institute‚ will be holding a demonstration outside the court on Tuesday. – TMG Digital/The Times
In South Africa, Nuclear Energy Is Becoming A Dirty Word Forbes, Nishtha Chugh
State power utility Eskom is dragging its feet on honoring government-brokered deals with private renewables companies. Its refusal to purchase 250 megawatts of power from wind and solar projects has left its Irish and Saudi Arabian suppliers fuming and in limbo. More than scuppering the deals, Eskom’s actions, critically, threaten to undermine the gains made by the country’s green energy program, which many have come to hail
as the shining beacon of a renewables-based future . On the Fieldstone Africa Renewable Index or FARI, South Africa’s ranking has plummeted off the charts entirely, prompting concerns amongst investors over green energy’s future in the country. Its decline is ironic given the rainbow nation had topped the continent-wide list just four months ago.
Energy minister’s advisers reveal why nuclear should be dumped News 24, Matthew le Cordeur Cape Town – A Ministerial Advisory Council on Energy (Mace) working group report on South Africa’s future energy plan explains that by removing policy adjustments and keeping the plan at a least cost level, the need for nuclear energy falls away.
Plan to go to market for nuclear proposals not open for review http://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/plan-to-go-to-market-for-nuclear-proposals-not-open-for-review-7140535 9 December 2016, Emsie Ferreira Cabinet will not revisit its decision to endorse plans to proceed with a request for proposals to build new nuclear reactors, Presidency Minister Jeff Radebe said on Friday.
Outa says there is no case for nuclear http://www.iol.co.za/business/news/outa-says-there-is-no-case-for-nuclear-7126828 BUSINESS NEWS / 8 December 2016, Emsie Ferreira Cape Town – Civic rights organisation Outa on Thursday said it believed the case for building new nuclear energy reactors had been dismantled after the energy minister’s advisors told public hearings there were cheaper viable options.
“Following input provided by numerous entities at Wednesday’s Integrated Energy and Resource Plan (IEP and IRP) draft documents, Outa believes the rationale for any plans to introduce nuclear energy into South Africa’s electricity grid has been removed,” Outa’s portfolio director Ted Blom said.
He said the first day of hearings on the draft resource and energy blueprints had shown that they contained serious flaws in their assumptions of the prices of different energy technologies and that there was a need to for the IRP base case scenario to use the cheapest options. The base case scenario advanced in the IRP provides for South Africa to add 20 gigawatt of new nuclear energy by 2050 and Eskom has said it would it go to the market with a request for proposals by the end of the year still.
A team of experts that advised Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson challenged this conclusion and said their input was ignored. Business Day reported that members of the panel of 40 experts told the hearings that the department’s decision to impose artificial constraints on how much renewable energy could be added to the grid, as well as outdated pricing had allowed nuclear into the model. Outa chairman Wayne Duvenhage said the hearings had already yielded valuable input for the final IRP and he did no see how it could support the government and Eskom’s plans for nuclear expansion.
“Personally, I cannot see how the final IRP-2016 document will be able to suggest the inclusion of even one kilowatt of energy being generated through nuclear. If nuclear energy is indeed forced into the system, the DOE’s credibility will come under serious scrutiny.” Outa has called on the department to allow more time for public submissions.
“We remain concerned that the DOE is trying to force the process to be complete by the end of March 2017, which we believe will not be sufficient time,” Blom said.
Nuclear Deal(s): What Zambia can learn from South Africa, Daily Maverick, 08 DEC 2016 Zambia has just signed four memoranda of understanding with Rosatom, Russia’s state-run nuclear agency, with a view to signing a nuclear deal worth $10-billion. While government has hailed the deal as a way to solve Zambia’s ongoing energy crisis, Zambians should be asking difficult questions – especially given Rosatom’s track record in South Africa. By SIMON ALLISON.
When Zambian President Edgar Lungu addressed Parliament in September, he announced a bold new energy strategy: Zambia is going nuclear…….
Three months later, we now have a better idea of what he was talking about. In a ceremony in Lusaka’s plush Pamodzi Hotel on Tuesday, Zambian government representatives signed a series of Memoranda of Understanding with Rosatom, the Russian state-owned nuclear agency.
The deal, which is not legally binding, sets out a 15-year nuclear co-operation plan, with the eventual goal of constructing a nuclear gigawatt nuclear power plant. In addition, Rosatom will help train Zambian nuclear engineers, develop a nuclear energy regulator, and spearhead nuclear research in the country. Local media estimate the total value of the deal to be $10-billion (that’s nearly half of Zambia’s GDP)……
There’s no doubt that Zambia needs an energy plan……..
But is nuclear really the solution? As Zambia prepares to go down the nuclear road, they could learn a few lessons from down south. Although South Africa has successfully operated a nuclear power station at Koeberg for several decades, a government initiative to build two new nuclear power stations has been mired in controversy, with Rosatom playing a central role in the drama. Based on the South African experience, here are three questions that Zambians should be asking.
1. Does Zambia need nuclear power? There’s no question that Zambia needs power…….. But nuclear power might not be the best solution. It’s not just the inherent dangers associated with nuclear power, although that is a factor; but also the nature of the energy generated. Nuclear power stations produce a steady “base line” supply of energy, which may not be appropriate for Zambia’s needs. Nuclear power can’t be turned on and off in response to supply and demand……
Critics of South Africa’s proposed nuclear deal have highlighted similar issues, as well as pointing out that South Africa – and, by extension, Zambia – might be better placed to take advantage of the decreasing cost of renewable energy.
“The promotion of nuclear energy at the expense of renewables bucks global trends. An industrial nation like Germany is phasing out nuclear power, and has a much higher renewable energy investment than sunny, windy South Africa. Chinese renewables expansion currently exceeds nuclear development by far,” said Hartmut Winkler, physics professor at the University of Johannesburg, writing in the Mail & Guardian.
2. Can Zambia afford nuclear power?
Nuclear power is expensive. Very expensive. It’s not just the cost of the construction of the nuclear plant itself, although those numbers are eye-watering (especially in an economy as small as Zambia’s, where GDP in 2015 was $21.2-billion). It is also the cost of financing that construction.
With most banks unwilling to take such a massive gamble, financing usually comes from the vendor itself. In South Africa’s case, Rosatom is supposed to fund the construction of the two new nuclear plants, and recoup its costs by selling the electricity generated at an artificially high price. According to the text of a secret agreement uncovered by investigative journalist Lionel Faull, Rosatom will be able to dictate that price at will – leaving South African energy users at the mercy of a foreign corporation.
3. Will the nuclear deal be corrupt?
Suspicion of corruption immediately attaches itself to any massive infrastructure project, and with good reason – especially in the case of nuclear deals. South Africa appears to be a textbook example of how the massive sums of money at stake can lead both government and corporations astray.
For example, French nuclear company Areva was accused by Sherpa, an anti-corruption NGO, of attempting to bribe high-ranking South African officials by purchasing unprofitable uranium mining assets for an inflated sum, just months before the tender for the nuclear project was announced. Rosatom itself, meanwhile, has been linked with a suspicious lack of transparency, fuelling fears that not all is above board. As Professor Winkler wrote in a separate piece for The Conversation:
“The nuclear debate gained a political dimension when President Jacob Zuma and his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, started to develop an unusually close relationship… The lack of transparency surrounding the process, coupled with a history of corruption in South African mega-projects like the arms deal, has made the whole scheme seem suspicious to the broader public,” he said……. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2016-12-08-nuclear-deals-what-zambia-can-learn-from-south-africa/#.WEoQptJ97Gg
Nuclear plan still uncertain, IOL, 4 Dec 16 Cape Town – The new nuclear construction programme remains in doubt as questions on funding remain unresolved by the government.
It appears that the National Treasury does not have the funds for the project despite Eskom pushing ahead with plans to publish the Request for Proposals this month and wanting to start implementation of the project in 2025.
Reports emerged last week that the government did not have the money to fund nuclear energy. It was reported that the Treasury had told Eskom that its R350 billion guarantee for its construction programme would not cover nuclear energy.
The portfolio committee on energy in the National Assembly said this week that it would appoint a panel of experts to investigate the costs and other implications for nuclear energy. The financing of nuclear power has been one of the sticking points for the programme.
The committee said the panel would conduct public hearings early next year. It would include experts who supported nuclear energy and those opposed to it.
President Zuma has said South Africa will undertake the nuclear programme if the scale and scope is affordable. It is this question of affordability that appears to throw the programme into a tailspin.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said last week that the Energy Department had undertaken a feasibility study to determine the cost of nuclear power.
Eskom has since been appointed by the cabinet to be the implementing agent of nuclear energy.
Recently Eskom acting CEO Matshela Koko told journalists the nuclear programme would be implemented by 2025.
This flies in the face of the review by the Energy Department that postpones the implementation of the programme from 2022 to 2037.
In its initial plans, the department had anticipated that the first nuclear power plant would come on stream in 2022 and the last one in 2029.
But Gordhan said last week that it shared its findings on the cost implications for nuclear energy with officials from the department of energy.
It said the department had not yet completed a cost-benefit analysis on nuclear energy……..http://www.iol.co.za/news/nuclear-plan-still-uncertain-7094028
Nuclear vision: New Eskom CEO Koko puts controversial nuclear power plans back on table The nation breathed a collective sigh of relief when the government appeared to back down on plans to build nuclear power plants any time soon. But Eskom’s new acting CEO Matshela Koko has moved quickly to get the build back on the agenda. He would like to start the process to identify project participants before the end of the year, with nuclear power plants up-and-running within the next decade, Fin24 has revealed.
The nuclear power plan has proved controversial for a number of reasons: firstly, the amount of money involved in developing the programme is so huge it could damage the economy; secondly, the plans first came to light after it emerged that President Jacob Zuma had been in secret talks with Russia to do the work. While Russia and its agency Rosatom have denied that there have been any irregularities in their dealings with South Africa about the build programme, it’s hard not to be cynical about what has gone on behind-the-scenes. The state capture report released by former public protector Thuli Madonsela pointed to the widespread abuse of state funds and the involvement of foreign parties in the control of state entities. Power utility Eskom featured prominently in the report.
So far, there has been no concerted action to fully investigate the allegations. Koko replaces Brian Molefe, who resigned after disgracing himself with bizarre statements about a shebeen in Saxonwold in order to deny he was visiting the controversial Gupta family who live in the leafy suburb. But Koko is no saint; he has also had links to an irregular Eskom deal highlighted in the state capture report. The fact that the nuclear build programme is back on the table, and that there is a sense of urgency to get it moving, points to the worrying possibility that state capture doesn’t only extend across the public sector – it runs deep within institutions. – Jackie Cameron
Biz News, By Matthew Le Cordeur, 1 Dec 16
Cape Town – Despite a draft energy plan that sees nuclear energy being delayed by over a decade, government and its state-owned entities (SOE) are gearing up to release the request for proposal (RFP) for the 9.6 GW nuclear build programme.
Acting Eskom CEO Matshela Koko last month pledged to release the RFPs by the end of the year, and this could happen as soon as next week…….https://www.biznews.com/sa-investing/2016/12/01/nuclear-power-eskom-ceo-koko/
Africa pushes for a 2017 ban on nuclear weapons https://www.issafrica.org/iss-today/africa-pushes-for-a-2017-ban-on-nuclear-weapons
A new UN resolution might spell an end to decades of paralysis in nuclear disarmament negotiations.
01 DEC 2016 / BY ANNIE DUPRE AND NOËL STOTT On 27 October, the First Committee of the United Nations (UN) passed L.41: ‘Taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations’. The resolution calls for negotiations to take place next year on a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, and lead towards their total elimination. It was passed with 123 votes in favour, 38 against and 16 abstentions.
This initiative has been called historic by analysts such as the former Canadian Ambassador for Disarmament to the UN, civil society groupings and international organisations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross –underscored by the belief that as long as nuclear weapons exist, humankind will risk facing the catastrophic consequences of a nuclear war.
Others, such as France, maintain that such a treaty would be ineffective and could undermine the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The NPT, which entered into force in 1970, prohibits the spread of nuclear weapons.
These differing assessments over the potential impact of a nuclear weapons ban treaty mirror the deep divisions among NPT state parties regarding their disarmament obligations, which has been a source of disagreement since the NPT’s entry-into-force.
The response of African states has been largely positive. Of the 47 African UN member states present at the vote, all but three supported the resolution. From the Africa Group, only Mali, Morocco and Sudan deviating by abstaining – presumably after coming under pressure from some nuclear-weapon states. Benin, Djibouti, Liberia, São Tomé and Príncipe, Senegal, Seychelles and South Sudan were not present for the vote. A number of African states co-sponsored and spearheaded the resolution, including Egypt, Nigeria and South Africa.
If passed by the UN General Assembly in December, negotiations are set to start in early 2017 – a step that would end two decades of paralysis in multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations.
Despite two-thirds of countries present at the vote supporting the resolution, there was significant push-back from virtually all the NPT nuclear-weapon states (the United States, France, Britain, Russia) and most of their allies, such as the 27 North Atlantic Treaty Organization members and Japan and Australia. The Russian representative warned of the damage such a treaty could cause, arguing that the initiative ‘was a destructive and hasty one that undermined and eroded existing disarmament mechanisms [the NPT]’.
His argument was echoed by others, including Morocco – which explained that its abstention was based on how the process and the way it was handled would impact on the NPT review process, and the possibility of all states working together. The Moroccan representative further called for preparatory work to be undertaken before negotiations started.
South Africa, however, expressed the view that the initiative would actually further the goals of the NPT, stating: ‘Such a treaty would also strengthen the NPT and underline the urgency of accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament obligations and related commitments’.
Speakers from non-nuclear-weapon states also argued that the use, or threat of use, of nuclear weapons would constitute a violation of international law and a crime against humanity. Malawi declared that it ‘is in the interest of the very survival of humanity that nuclear weapons are never used again, under any circumstances. The catastrophic effects of a nuclear weapons detonation, whether by accident, miscalculation or design, cannot be adequately addressed’.
In the statement delivered by Nigeria, the African Group affirmed that the total elimination of nuclear weapons is still ‘the only absolute guarantee against their use or threat of use’. Beyond supporting negotiations in 2017 on a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons, Nigeria’s statement also called on all UN members to support ‘a universal, unconditional and legally binding instrument on negative security assurances by nuclear-weapons states to all non-nuclear-weapons states, pending the total elimination of nuclear weapons’.
Some of the states under the US nuclear umbrella that abstained or voted no – like the Netherlands and Japan – have indicated their willingness to participate in the negotiations in 2017. Others, such as Norway, have subsequently indicated that they would not. Still others seem undecided.
It is unlikely that the NPT nuclear-weapon states would participate in such discussions. Mark Toner, US State Department spokesperson, said: ‘Successful nuclear reductions will require participation from all relevant parties, proven verification measures, and security conditions conducive to cooperation …we lack all three factors at this time.’
The United Kingdom (UK) is also clear on the need for its nuclear deterrence to be maintained ‘for the foreseeable future’ – because of the ‘risk that states might use their nuclear capability to threaten us, try to constrain our decision-making in a crisis or sponsor nuclear terrorism’.
Significantly, three nuclear-armed states, namely China, India and Pakistan, abstained, while the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea voted in favour. However, it remains to be seen whether these states would participate in the negotiations.
And this is the crux of the issue. Despite a sizable number of UN members in favour of negotiations, there is significant skepticism of the opportunities these would present, especially if nuclear-weapons states boycott the talks scheduled for March and June next year.
The question is whether it would be better, strategically, for nuclear-armed states and their allies to participate – if only to try guide the negotiations in their favour? However, African states, who make up a significant portion of the UN membership, could also direct the path towards a world free of nuclear weapons.
According to Article 36, a UK-based organisation, the treaty would serve as a necessary and practical next step towards a world in which all weapons of mass destruction are outlawed and are being eliminated: even without the participation of nuclear-armed states.
Historically, all unacceptable weapons have first been subjected to a global prohibition before they were eliminated. For any international instrument to have a true impact, however, acceptance by a large majority of states is needed.
In most of the recent processes towards banning indiscriminate weapons (such as anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions), Africa has played a leading role. It is possible that the African continent, which also hosts the only country to have unilaterally eliminated its own nuclear arsenal, may again play such a role in the banning of probably the most destructive weapons ever to have been developed. While the effectiveness of such an instrument remains to be seen, the decision to commence negotiations on such a treaty is indeed a historic occasion.
Annie DuPre, Research Consultant and Noël Stott, Senior Research Fellow, Transnational Threats and International Crime Division, ISS Pretoria
Who’s Paying For This $5 Billion Nuclear Plant In Kenya?,Daily Caller, ANDREW FOLLETT
Energy and Science Reporter, 1 Dec 16 Kenya is getting ready to start building a $5 billion dollar nuclear power plant, but its unclear where the money is coming from.
Kenya’s first nuclear reactor is scheduled to be completed by 2027 and will generate an estimated 1,000 megawatts of power. Kenya has signed agreements with China for the larger country to help finance and construct similar reactors. China’s state-controlled nuclear companies have already offered technical assistance in handling the nuclear fuel Kenya will need.
Another potential funding source for the reactor is South Korea, which signed agreements to collaborate on designing, operating and financing Kenyan reactors.
“When we talk of 1,000 megawatts, we are talking half of the capacity we have right now in the country,” Collins Gordon Juma, CEO of Kenya’s Nuclear Electricity Board, told Bloomberg Markets Tuesday. “It is very expensive, so we are looking at several funding options. We are speaking to various governments.”……..
Kenya is one of the most stable countries in East Africa, but the country has a serious problem with Islamic terrorism. In 1998, 200 people were killed when al-Qaida affiliate Egyptian Islamic Jihad bombed the U.S. embassy in the country. Another 13 were killed in an attack on an Israeli-owned Paradise hotel in 2002. More recently, the militant Islamic terror group, Al-Shabaab, killed 67 people in an attack on a shopping mall in 2013.
The country’s new reactor would not produce the weapons-grade plutonium necessary to make a nuclear weapon, but materials from them could be used to create dirty bombs. A dirty bomb combines radioactive material with conventional explosives that could contaminate the local area with high radiation levels for long periods of time and cause mass panic, though it would be millions of times weaker than an actual nuclear device. The Islamic State wants to steal this kind of radioactive material for a dirty bomb.
What’s next for SA energy, now that Russian nuclear build is on ice? Expert unpacks the plan , Biz News, Business players and others with interests in nuclear energy are understandably annoyed that the country’s plans are changing, with a nuclear build programme with Russia looking like it is on ice. For Hartmut Winkler, a physics expert at the University of Johannesburg, the new plan has the makings of a good news story for South Africa. He unpacks the details, explaining how energy consumption patterns in the country have changed recently and also how the costs of renewable energy options have been falling. Although the pro-nuclear lobby – which includes Eskom, a state entity that features prominently in state capture allegations – is expected to keep pushing for the Russian option, Winkler reckons the programme is unlikely to go ahead. There is research that indicates that nuclear power might not even be needed by South Africa until at least 2050, which means pushing the build out even further. Winkler is remarkably upbeat about the state of the energy sector. If energy generation is managed properly from here on, South Africa’s energy challenges may not be as bad as we all think, is his message. – Jackie Cameron By Hartmut Winkler* 29 Nov 16
The much awaited updated South African Integrated Resource Plan for electricity has been released
The document makes far-reaching proposals about the target energy generation mix leading all the way to 2050. In particular, the plan pronounces on the future scale and role of nuclear energy and renewable energy technologies. The appropriateness of these has been debated a great deal in the country in the past few years……
in an updated version of the 2011 plan that was prepared in 2013. It recommended that, in view of these changing conditions, there was no longer a need to kick-start a nuclear build programme immediately. It also recommended that a decision on whether or not to embark on an expensive expansion of the nuclear reactor fleet could be delayed for several years.
But this updated version of the plan was never promulgated. This left the door open for a fiercely pro-nuclear lobby which is in favour of a highly lucrative nuclear expansion programme. This issue has developed into a political hot potato. The central argument is that the push for nuclear goes against economic common sense and that it’s being pursued for the benefit of politically connected individuals.
The nuclear build issue has come to feature prominently as one of the important drivers of what is referred to as “state capture” of some of the country’s large institutions.
The latest version
The draft update of the resources plan advocates the following most likely scenario, referred to as the “base case”.
- Electricity demand between 310 and 355 TWh in 2030 (about 100 TWh lower than envisaged in the 2010-2030 plan) with demand rising to between 390 and 530 TWh in 2050. This is based on projection models developed at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.
- The construction of 37.4 GW (1 000 GigaWatts equal 1 TeraWatt) of wind capacity and 17.6 GW of solar photovoltaic capacity between 2020 and 2050.
- The gradual decommissioning of most existing coal power stations by 2050 in line with international carbon emission agreements.
- A substantial increase (35.3 GW) in electricity generation from gas. Due to the high cost of gas it is generally used only as a back up. It would in any case contribute only about 7% of total energy generation.
- The construction of just over 20 GW of nuclear power. But this would only gradually come on line between 2037 and 2050. Given that construction of the plants would take ten years the decision to go ahead with the nuclear build could still be delayed for another decade.
Unsurprisingly, the nuclear industry and its supporters have reacted very negatively to the new draft. Strong nuclear advocates in the state electricity utility Eskom have gone so far as to defiantly declare that they will invite nuclear construction proposals before the end of the year.
But Eskom’s defiance is unlikely to lead to anything substantial. This is because the state utility is facing both a credibility crisis and its finances are in poor shape.
On the other hand advocates of faster growth in renewables have criticised two fundamental assumptions underpinning the “base case” model.
They argue that the model assumes renewable tariffs slightly higher than achieved in the last allocations made under the renewable energy procurement programme. Only by 2030 do these drop a further 20% for photovoltaics and 9% for wind. But given recent trends and projections there’s a strong likelihood that future renewable energy costs will be lower than that.
The “base case” also assumes a limit to how many solar and wind plants can be constructed annually. But based on past interest and delivery by private renewable power producers far greater annual developments are possible.
Several researchers have shown that by applying lower renewable tariffs and removing annual construction limits renewables can make up a much greater proportion of the energy mix, and that new nuclear might not even be needed in 2050.
Future energy demand
The new energy plan is now subject to public input. It is due to be adopted by government in four months time after improvements and further scenario modelling has been added.
Even after adoption, updates will need to be done regularly, ideally every two years since even current projections could be overestimating future energy demand considerably.
This is particularly true given that energy consumption is declining in most developed countries because of advances in technology and energy saving initiatives.
If the energy sector is managed correctly, the current South African energy crisis may not be as far reaching as is often assumed.
South Africa’s Proposed Nuclear Power Plant Unsafe: Study VOA News, 25 Nov 16 JOHANNESBURG —
South African power provider Eskom has proposed building a nuclear power station on a site that may be at risk of surge storms and tsunamis, a geological report suggests, but the state-owned utility disputes the findings.
South Africa has the continent’s only nuclear power station and plans to expand nuclear power generation to meet growing electricity demand in Africa’s most industrialized country.
The report by Maarten de Wit, a professor at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and director of the Africa Earth Observatory Network, a research institute, says canyons in the bedrock would need to be secured.
“If you are going to build anything on that, it’s pretty prone to storms, sea level rises and tsunamis,” De Wit told Reuters on Friday.
The site at Thyspunt, near Port Elizabeth in the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, is on the Indian Ocean coastline.
The report also showed seismic activity along dormant fault lines near the site that could trigger submarine landslides. Any such activity “is likely to generate a large submarine slump, and a possible significant local tsunami that would affect the coastal region, including Thyspunt,” the report said, warning that a plant at Thyspunt could be at risk of devastation similar that in Fukushima in Japan in 2011……. http://www.voanews.com/a/south-afdrica-s-proposed-nuclear-power-plant-unsafe-report-says/3611738.html
Busa warns Eskom on nuclear plans IOL, 25 November 2016, Siseko Njobeni Johannesburg – Business Unity South Africa (Busa) yesterday warned power utility Eskom not to proceed with preparations to procure nuclear while consultations on the draft integrated resource plan (IRP) had not been completed.
Busa said it was concerned that the difficulties that renewable projects faced in gaining access to the grid appeared to be used as an artificial constraint on renewable energy sources.
“Furthermore, Busa is concerned that Eskom and the government do not seem to be aligned on the question of the nuclear element of the IRP,” the business group said.
“Busa believes that the role of Eskom, particularly in respect of its position as the sole purchaser of electricity, needs to be clearly defined.”
“Additionally, Eskom’s role as the developer of new generation capacity should not proceed independently of the IRP which is only expected to be finalised in the third quarter of next year,” Busa said.
The business body said any procurement of large-scale generation should commence only after finalisation of the IRP as the national plan.
The warning comes after the Department of Energy published the draft integrated energy plan and the draft IRP for the country on Tuesday. The documents are out for public comment.
The assumptions and scenarios in the IRP will be the subject of public consultation at Nedlac – the government, labour and business negotiating chamber – and provincial road shows in February next year…….
Meanwhile, the Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa said yesterday that it was alarmed at the prospect of a delay of the nuclear programme to 2037. http://www.iol.co.za/business/companies/busa-warns-eskom-on-nuclear-plans-2093258