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In South Africa, nuclear and coal lobbies wage a (losing) war against renewables

Nuclear and Coal Lobbies Threaten to Scupper Renewables in South Africa, http://energypost.eu/nuclear-and-coal-lobbies-threaten-to-scupper-renewables-in-south-africa/ August 17, 2017 by Hartmut Winkler, South African power utility Eskom recently repeated that it will not conclude supply contracts with the developers of new renewable energy power stations. These developers were selected under a programme to facilitate private sector involvement in the building of medium-sized renewable energy power stations.

The programme has won plaudits for its success in facilitating the establishment of multiple solar and wind farms in record time. But Eskom is once again stalling.

The power utility’s stand threatens the viability of the entire renewable energy sector in the country. It’s hostility also defies logic given that the whole world is embracing renewable energy as key to a clean energy future and combating climate change.

So what lies behind the opposition?

The answer lies in the fact that two powerful lobbies are at work in South Africa. One is pro-coal, the other pro-nuclear. This has made the success of the renewable energy projects a target for attacks from interested parties in both. Disrupting the renewable energy sector would ensure that the coal sector remains dominant. And that, over time, it is gradually displaced by nuclear.

Eskom has pointed to the oversupply of electricity as the reason for its objection. But elsewhere it has trumpeted the need for more nuclear power. It can’t have it both ways

The lobby groups attached to coal and nuclear appear to have had powerful allies on the state utility’s board. There is mounting evidence that they have been furthering the interests of a group linked to the Gupta family. It in turn has been accused of capturing state entities to further its own ends, as well as those of President Jacob Zuma, his family and allies.

It has also been widely argued that the massively expensive proposed nuclear build is being driven by the same interest groups.

The battle over renewables is therefore closely linked to a wider political confrontation over control of key aspects of the South African economy.

Eskom’s flawed argument

The renewables dispute centres on the state utility’s refusal to endorse 1121 MW of new renewable energy. This translates to about 1% of Eskom’s current generated electricity, given that renewable energy supply is intermittent. This additional renewable energy would make up 5% of the total renewable energy generating capacity projected by 2030.

Eskom accepts the need to expand its generating potential in the long term. The additional contribution from renewables is well within its broader expansion targets. And tariffs on the energy from renewable sources would be almost half of the estimated cost of new coal and new nuclear power.

Until two years ago Eskom was seen as a neutral player committed to effectively provide electric power in the best interests of the country. But that all changed in 2015 after Brian Molefe was appointed CEO

The Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has been disingenuous in citing cost as a reason to stop the last phase of renewables. The higher costs she recently quoted were presumably those associated with the first round of renewable energy projects. These contracts were concluded in 2012 and prices for renewables have come down considerably since.

For its part Eskom has pointed to the oversupply of electricity as the reason for its objection. But elsewhere it has trumpeted the need for more nuclear power. It can’t have it both ways.

Powerful forces at play

Until two years ago Eskom was seen as a neutral player committed to effectively provide electric power in the best interests of the country. It threw its weight behind previous power procurement plans.

But that all changed in 2015 after Brian Molefe was appointed CEO.

Molefe and his successor Matshela Koko are both linked to the controversial Gupta family. Their names featured in the Public Protector’s State of Capture report as well as in a bulk leak of emails which implicated the Guptas and other leading figures in the state capture network.

Molefe and Koko played a pivotal role in helping the Guptas purchase a coal mine – the Optimum mine – and to secure a lucrative coal supply contract with Eskom. Both are also strongly pro-nuclear. They have also gone on record to argue that renewable energy is too expensive.

Eskom has furthermore listed renewables as the reason for planning to shut down four coal power plants. In reality, these old plants had already been destined for closure in anticipation of the imminent additional power supply expected from two new coal plants – Medupi and Kusile.

Ultimately South Africa won’t be able to buck international trends. That means that, in the longer term, the future of renewables in South Africa remains bright

It’s suspicious that one of the power stations facing closure, Hendrina, is supplied by coal from the Optimum mine. The effect of stalling renewable power expansion could force the extension of Hendrina’s life span.

Brown is in the process of restructuring the Eskom board after Molefe departed, Koko was suspended and the chairperson of the board resigned. Although there are signs that the minister is aware that she has been misled by the Eskom board on other matters, she doesn’t seem to believe this is true when it comes to renewables, repeating recently the view that it’s too expensive.

Brown’s counterpart in the energy portfolio, Nkhensani Kubayi, has displayed little sympathy for the renewable energy sector, also making far-fetched and easily disprovable claims that the initial solar and wind power stations have resulted in zero jobs. Renewable energy is in fact estimated to eventually generate over 100 000 jobs in South Africa.

Kubayi has also shown that she’s highly receptive to the nuclear lobby. Visiting a nuclear industry fair in Russia in the middle of June she expressed concern that the judicial disqualification of the existing nuclear cooperation agreement damaged relations with that country.

It has been convincingly argued that South Africa can’t afford the nuclear option in the current economic environment.

The immediate future

The global ascendancy of renewables and their particular pertinence in South African climatic conditions may even make coal and nuclear energy technologies obsolete in the distant future. Ultimately South Africa won’t be able to buck international trends. That means that, in the longer term, the future of renewables in South Africa remains bright.

August 18, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa: R80m in irregularities in nuclear contract

Energy minister investigates R80m in irregularities in nuclear contract https://www.timeslive.co.za/politics/2017-08-10-exclusive-energy-minister-investigates-r80-million-in-irregularities-in-nuclear-contract/?platform=hootsuite  BY JAN-JAN JOUBERT Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi has launched an investigation into several senior officials in her department for alleged nuclear tender irregularities amounting to R80-million.

Kubayi’s office has confirmed that it is probing the possible violation of National Treasury regulations when the department awarded an R80-million contract to a nuclear transactional adviser‚ Mahlaka-A-Phalala (M-A-P).

“There are still investigations going on the matters raised in your questions and therefore we are unable to respond as it will jeopardise and weaken the case‚” said a short statement from Kubayi’s office in response to 29 questions posed by TimesLIVE.

The minister can expect heavy questioning on the matter from DA MP Gordon Mackay when she appears before Parliament’s portfolio committee on energy on Tuesday.

Mackay said this was further evidence why the government nuclear procurement was “captured”.

“The nuclear deal is a prime example of state capture. The DA will demand from committee chairperson Fikile Majola that the energy portfolio committee tackle this matter with extreme urgency when we reconvene next month‚ and question the investment.

“We will also demand to know why deputy director-general [Zizamele] Mbambo remains in his post‚ and will propose an ad hoc committee to get to the bottom of this mess‚” said Mackay.

According to documents TimesLIVE has seen‚ energy director-general Thabane Zulu‚ his deputy Zizamele Mbambo‚ procurement specialist Ndaba Ngwane‚ and chief financial officer Yvonne Chetty have signed a deviation request to sign off the deal.

Zulu has since been moved to head the Strategic Energy Fund while Ndaba has quietly exited the department.

Mbambo remains in his position despite awarding the contract‚ which a leaked document shows amounts to R80-million. The scandal started at the end of August last year‚ when one of the consulting firms in the nuclear build programme‚ M-A-P – against which no allegations are made – compiled a report finding that the department was not ready to issue a request for proposal for the intended nuclear new build programme‚ estimated to be worth R1-trillion.

On September 22‚ Mbambo and Ngwane asked Chetty and Zulu to approve a deviation from normal procurement processes‚ in practice allowing M-A-P to continue work on the development of a transactional adviser.

The next day‚ Chetty and Zulu agreed to the deviation‚ which Chetty warned was subject to the buy-in of the National Treasury and the office of the attorney-general.

However‚ Mbambo and Ngwane merely told M-A-P to continue with a second phase of the contract‚ the cost of which would grow by R80-million to R100-million by March despite the required governance processes allegedly not having been followed.

On September 27‚ then minister of energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson suspended all payments related to the transactional adviser to M-A-P until the department had submitted a verification report to her on all deliverables received.

According to sources close to the events‚ this decision was never communicated to M-A-P as a service provider.

Instead‚ Mbambo‚ Zulu and Ngwane continued to engage M-A-P and received work deliverables towards the procurement process without a contract and without all regulations being followed. Among the serious allegations that TimesLIVE put to the Department of Energy over the past 10 days is that M-A-P was not subjected to a competitive bid process.

Instead‚ section 16 (a) 6.6 of the Public Finance Management Act was used – despite warnings by the relevant tender committee that this was wrong – to keep paying M-A-P.

This was done despite the law only allowing for the cost of the project to be extended by 15% without an open tender process.

At the beginning of March‚ M-A-P‚ which remained ignorant of Joemat-Pettersson’s instruction to stop payments‚ went to see her about payments outstanding‚ adding R60-million to the initial R20-million contract.

M-A-P also revealed to Joemat-Pettersson that it had a copy of the deviation request approved by Chetty and Zulu as given to it by Mbambo and Ndaba‚ despite the strict rules regarding the leaking of internal documents.

The whole matter came to a climax on March 16 when the departmental tender committee met and reviewed M-A-P’s bills.

Mbambo was in hot water and held to account as the meeting continued on March 22.

During the meeting‚ it came to light that Mbambo had already on September 1 given verbal instruction to M-A-P to extend its contract by a further R80-million to R100-million.

In the end‚ the Department of Energy shifted funds from the sundries account and paid M-A-P R56-million of the additional R80-million by the end of the financial year (March 31).

Zulu said only the department could comment. Numerous efforts to contact Mbambo for comment failed last week‚ and Ngwane could not be tracked down.

August 11, 2017 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

Corruption in the cobalt industry in Congo

FT 26th July 2017, Behind every clean electric car there is cobalt. And behind cobalt is the
Democratic Republic of Congo.

Cobalt is a critical element in lithium-ion
batteries used in electric cars. Such batteries already consume 42 per cent
of the metal and demand will soar as the world switches from petrol and
diesel cars to electric ones. This week, Britain followed France in declaring a ban on such vehicles from 2040. Soon, almost anyone in the rich world will be able to drive safe in the knowledge that they’re being kinder
and gentler to the planet.

Did I mention the Democratic Republic of Congo?
Some 60 per cent of the world’s cobalt comes from this central African
country, one the size of western Europe and with gargantuan problems to
match. Some industry analysts are predicting a 30-fold increase in cobalt
demand by 2030, much of which will come from Congo. Cobalt prices doubled
in the past year alone.

You might imagine the average Congolese would be
thrilled by the prospect of the coming bonanza. But if history is any
guide, the average Congolese will gain little – save perhaps from militia
violence and perhaps a dangerous, poorly paid job. In Congo, they say, you
can find every element in the periodic table. But this abundance has not
done its people much good. A recent report by Global Witness found that 30
per cent of revenue paid to state bodies by mining companies from 2013 to
2015 – about $750m – simply vanished.

https://www.ft.com/content/427b8cb0-71d7-11e7-aca6-c6bd07df1a3c

July 28, 2017 Posted by | AFRICA, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Rosatom’s plans to DEVELOP NUCLEAR CLUSTER IN SOUTH AFRICA 

ROSATOM SAYS IT HAS PLANS TO DEVELOP NUCLEAR CLUSTER IN SA http://ewn.co.za/2017/06/19/rosatom-says-it-has-plans-to-develop-nuclear-cluster-in-sa  In April, the Western Cape High Court ruled that government’s decision to call for proposals for the procurement of 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear energy was unlawful and unconstitutional.Tara Penny JOHANNESBURG – Russia’s Rosatom has confirmed it is in contact with South African authorities on plans concerning the civilian use of nuclear energy.

The CEO of Rosatom’s foreign unit, Anastasia Zoteyeva made the comment while answering questions on the sidelines of a conference in Moscow on Monday morning.

She also told reporters that the Russian state nuclear corporation is proposing to develop a whole nuclear cluster in South Africa.

In April, the Western Cape High Court ruled that government’s decision to call for proposals for the procurement of 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear energy was unlawful and unconstitutional.

Earthlife Africa, which brought the case, said the judgment vindicates its argument that the process government has followed was unlawful because it failed to consult the public about its decision.

The case was first brought in October 2015, when Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute argued that former Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersen had not consulted the public nor Parliament before deciding to procure 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear power.

The judgment meant all deals that government had pursued with Russia and the United States were not valid.

July 22, 2017 Posted by | marketing, politics international, Russia, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa, with excellent renewable resources, does not need expensive, dirty, nuclear power

Nuclear energy development under the spotlight http://bereamail.co.za/114003/nuclear-energy-development-under-the-spotlight/, 1 July 17 

“The money planned to build the power stations can be used to improve our ailing education system.” THE jury is still out on why a country like South Africa, rated number five on the world as best suitable for renewable energy, would want to build eight new nuclear power stations at cost of R1 trillion.

Should the 9,600MW of nuclear capacity project go ahead, it could be one of the world’s biggest nuclear contracts in decades. The South African Faith Communities Environmental Institute (SAFCEI) and the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SADCEA) held a Nuclear Court Case Feedback workshop, at Diakonia on Friday, following their landmark victory at the Western Cape High Court, which saw government’s notorious nuclear deal agreements with Russia, the United States and South Korea set aside and declared unlawful and unconstitutional.

According to Lydia Mogano, who is Safcei’s regional coordinator, a nuclear energy development in South Africa will have negative socio-economic and environmental implications on ordinary citizens.

“Electricity tariffs are already high, with residents paying close to R1.50 per unit, but with nuclear energy they will pay R1.80 and above, making it even more difficult for them survive. Even the government’s own research done by the CSIR, shows that we do not need nuclear at all and renewable energy will be much cheaper. Nuclear energy demand is on the decline across the world, it takes 10 to 15 years to build a nuclear power station. Research done by CSIR shows that solar provides 70 percent of energy globally,” Mogano said.

Despite critics saying the country does not have the money, necessary skills to procure, build, operate, maintain and regulate six new nuclear power stations, Presient Jacob Zuma, addressing Parliament last month, said government still intended to pursue the acquisition of nuclear power stations at a “pace and scale” that the country could afford. He further added that building nuclear power stations would “bring dividends and profits for many thousands of years to come.”

However, Mogano said funds planned to build the power stations could be used to improve our ailing education system, the backlog of houses millions of people still needed houses and improvements could be made to the country’s water and sanitation systems.

Legal representative for Safcei and Earthlife, Adrian Pole, who was also in attendance said: “Transparency in the nuclear procurement process, including access to cost estimates and feasibility studies, has been at the heart of this case. Public participation without that kind of information being made available would render it, in itself, unfair.”

Environmental activist Desmond D’sa said should the nuclear energy development not go ahead, the R240 million that has already been spent on two years of research needs to be accounted for. According to industry executives, regulators and scientists with proper management, vigilance and safety enhancements, a nuclear power plants lifespan is 40-70 years and the decommission costs the same amount as when you build it.

July 21, 2017 Posted by | Legal, politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

On Mandela Day, South Africa’s anti nuclear movement pledges to stop the government’s nuclear plans

Anti-nuclear groups will do ‘everything possible’ to stop government’s plans, https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2017-07-18-anti-nuclear-groups-will-do-8216everything-possible8217-to-stop-government8217s-plans/ 18 JULY 2017 – 17:19 BEKEZELA PHAKATHI Anti-nuclear lobby groups say they will do all that is possible, including turning to the courts and mass protests, to stop the government’s nuclear plans.

On Tuesday, groups belonging to #StopCorruptNuclearSA spent 67 minutes as part of Mandela Day, occupying bridges on highways in Cape Town to protest government’s ongoing pursuit of nuclear power, which they say represents SA’s “most urgent threat”.

Last month, President Jacob Zuma said in Parliament that the government was still intent on pursuing the nuclear new-build programme at a pace and scale the country could afford. He said the nuclear programme remained firmly part of the energy mix SA was pursuing to ensure energy security. The mix includes hydro, solar, coal, wind and gas.

Kate Davies, one of the founding members of the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) which forms part of the anti-nuclear lobby, told Business Day that the groups would do everything to stop government from continuing with the nuclear programme. “We firmly believe that it is a great mistake for our country to pursue nuclear. We simply cannot afford it … We are also hearing that Eskom is already bankrupt … hopefully, sense will prevail. We are waiting and watching, and we remind civil society to be vigilant,” said Davies.

She said the secret nature of the programme meant it was open to corruption at a scale worse than the arms deal and that the government should rather focus on renewables, which have been proven to be cheaper and safer than nuclear. Furthermore, she said, demand for electricity was decreasing as consumers find smarter ways to use power and the current consumption patterns meant the country did not need nuclear.

Vainola Makan, from Right2Know Campaign, which is also part of the anti-nuclear lobby, said: “Citizens face a major issue with government at the moment, in that our government continues to purposefully exclude South Africans from important decisions.”

The High Court in Cape Town recently set aside the two determinations issued by former energy minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, that laid the basis for the nuclear procurement. It found that the determinations relating to the construction of nuclear plants with a capacity of 9,600MW were unconstitutional and invalid.

The court also declared the nuclear co-operation agreement between the South African and Russian governments to be unconstitutional and unlawful. The case was brought against the government by Earthlife Africa and SAFCEI.

Following the ruling, Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said the government was reviewing its nuclear agreements with many countries.

Last month, Zuma said it was important to note that the High Court found fault with the process followed, especially in tabling the intergovernmental agreements in preparation for the nuclear new-build programme. The judgment, said Zuma, did not deal with substantive matters pertaining to the country’s future energy programmes.

July 18, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Africa | Leave a comment

The international nuclear industry in financial meltdown

Global Meltdown? Nuclear Power’s Annus Horribilis, Jim Green, New Matilda, 9 July 2017 https://newmatilda.com/2017/07/09/global-meltdown-nuclear-powers-annus-horribilis/

This year will go down with 1979 (Three Mile Island), 1986 (Chernobyl) and 2011 (Fukushima) as one of the nuclear industry’s worst ever ‒ and there’s still another six months to go, writes Dr Jim Green.

Two of the industry’s worst-ever years have been in the past decade and there will be many more bad years ahead as the trickle of closures of ageing reactors becomes a flood ‒ the International Energy Agency expects almost 200 reactor closures between 2014 and 2040. The likelihood of reactor start-ups matching closures over that time period has become vanishingly small.

In January, the World Nuclear Association anticipated 18 power reactor start-ups this year. The projection has been revised down to 14 and even that seems more than a stretch. There has only been one reactor start-up in the first half of the year according to the IAEA’s Power Reactor Information System, and two permanent reactor closures.

The number of power reactors under construction is on a downward trajectory ‒ 59 reactors are under construction as of May 2017, the first time since 2010 that the number has fallen below 60.

Pro-nuclear journalist Fred Pearce wrote on May 15: “Is the nuclear power industry in its death throes? Even some nuclear enthusiasts believe so. With the exception of China, most nations are moving away from nuclear ‒ existing power plants across the United States are being shut early; new reactor designs are falling foul of regulators, and public support remains in free fall. Now come the bankruptcies…. The industry is in crisis. It looks ever more like a 20th century industrial dinosaur, unloved by investors, the public, and policymakers alike. The crisis could prove terminal.”

Pro-nuclear lobby groups are warning about nuclear power’s “rapidly accelerating crisis“, a “crisis that threatens the death of nuclear energy in the West“, and noting that “the industry is on life support in the United States and other developed economies“.

United States

The most dramatic story this year has been the bankruptcy protection filing of US nuclear giant Westinghouse onMarch 29. Westinghouse’s parent company Toshiba states that there is “substantial doubt” about Toshiba’s “ability to continue as a going concern”. These nuclear industry giants have been brought to their knees by cost overruns ‒estimated at US$13 billion ‒ building four AP1000 power reactors in the U.S.

The nuclear debate in the US is firmly centred on attempts to extend the lifespan of ageing, uneconomic reactors with state bailouts. Financial bailouts by state governments in New York and Illinois are propping up ageing reactors, but a proposed bailout in Ohio is meeting stiff opposition. The fate of Westinghouse and its partially-built AP1000 reactors are much discussed, but there is no further discussion about new reactors ‒ other than to note that they won’t happen.

Six reactors have been shut down over the past five years in the US, and another handful will likely close in the next five years. How far and fast will nuclear fall? Exelon ‒ the leading nuclear power plant operator in the US ‒ claims that “economic and policy challenges threaten to close about half of America’s reactors” in the next two decades. According to pro-nuclear lobby group ‘Environmental Progress‘, almost one-quarter of US reactors are at high risk of closure by 2030, and almost three-quarters are at medium to high risk. In May, the US Energy Information Administration released an analysis projecting nuclear’s share of the nation’s electricity generating capacity will drop from 20 per cent to 11 per cent by 2050.

There are different views about how far and fast nuclear will fall in the US ‒ but fall it will. And there is no dispute that many plants are losing money. More than half in fact, racking up losses totalling about US$2.9 billion a year according to a recent analysis by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. And a separate Bloomberg report found that expanding state aid to money-losing reactors across the eastern US may leave consumers on the hook for as much as US$3.9 billion a year in higher power bills.

Japan

Fukushima clean-up and compensation cost estimates have doubled and doubled again and now stand at US$191 billion. An analysis by the Japan Institute for Economic Research estimates that the total costs for decommissioning, decontamination and compensation could be far higher at US$443‒620 billion.

Only five reactors are operating in Japan as of July 2017, compared to 54 before the March 2011 Fukushima disaster. The prospects for new reactors are bleak. Japan has given up on its Monju fast breeder reactor ‒ successive governments wasted US$10.6 billion on Monju and decommissioning will cost another US$2.7 billion.

As mentioned, Toshiba is facing an existential crisis due to the crippling debts of its subsidiary Westinghouse. Toshibaannounced on May 15 that it expects to report a consolidated net loss of US$8.4 billion for the 2016‒2017 financial year which ended March 31.

Hitachi is backing away from its plan to build two Advanced Boiling Water Reactors in Wylfa, Wales. Hitachi recentlysaid that if it cannot attract partners to invest in the project before construction is due to start in 2019, the project will be suspended.

Hitachi recently booked a massive loss on a failed investment in laser uranium enrichment technology in the US. A 12 May 2017 statement said the company had posted an impairment loss on affiliated companies’ common stock of US$1.66 billion for the fiscal year ended 31 March 2017, and “the major factor” was Hitachi’s exit from the laser enrichment project. Last year a commentator opined that “the way to make a small fortune in the uranium enrichment business in the US is to start with a large one.”

France

The French nuclear industry is in its “worst situation ever” according to former EDF director Gérard Magnin. France has 58 operable reactors and just one under construction.

French EPR reactors under construction in France and Finland are three times over budget ‒ the combined cost overruns for the two reactors amount to about US$14.5 billion.

Bloomberg noted in April 2015 that Areva’s EPR export ambitions are “in tatters“. Now Areva itself is in tatters and is in the process of a government-led restructure and another taxpayer-funded bailout. On March 1, Areva posted a €665 million net loss for 2016. Losses in the preceding five years exceeded €10 billion.

In February, EDF released its financial figures for 2016: earnings and income fell and EDF’s debt remained steady at €37.4 billion. EDF plans to sell €10 billion of assets by 2020 to rein in its debt, and to sack up to 7,000 staff. The French government provided EDF with €3 billion in extra capital in 2016 and will contribute €3 billion towards a €4 billioncapital raising this year. On March 8, shares in EDF hit an all-time low a day after the €4 billion capital raising was launched; the share price fell to €7.78, less than one-tenth of the high a decade ago.

Costs of between €50 billion and €100 billion will need to be spent by 2030 to meet new safety requirements for reactors in France and to extend their operating lives beyond 40 years.

EDF has set aside €23 billion to cover reactor decommissioning and waste management costs in France ‒ just over half of the €54 billion that EDF estimates will be required. A recent report by the French National Assembly’s Commission for Sustainable Development and Regional Development concluded that there is “obvious under-provisioning” and that decommissioning and waste management will take longer, be more challenging and cost much more than EDF anticipates.

In 2015, concerns about the integrity of some EPR pressure vessels were revealed, prompting investigations that are still ongoing. Last year, the scandal was magnified when the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) announced that Areva had informed it of “irregularities in components produced at its Creusot Forge plant.” The problems concern documents attesting to the quality of parts manufactured at the site. At least 400 of the 10,000 quality documents reviewed by Areva contained anomalies. Work at the Creusot Forge foundry was suspended in the wake of the scandal and Areva is awaiting ASN approval to restart the foundry.

French environment and energy minister Nicolas Hulot said on June 12 that the government plans to close some nuclear reactors to reduce nuclear’s share of the country’s power mix. “We are going to close some nuclear reactors and it won’t be just a symbolic move,” he said.

India

Nuclear power accounts for just 3.4 percent of electricity supply in India and that figure will not rise significantly, if at all. In May, India’s Cabinet approved a plan to build 10 indigenous pressurized heavy water reactors (PHWR). That decision can be read as an acknowledgement that plans for six Westinghouse AP1000 reactors and six French EPR reactors are unlikely to eventuate.

The plan for 10 new PHWRs faces major challenges. Suvrat Raju and M.V. Ramana noted: “[N]uclear power will continue to be an expensive and relatively minor source of electricity for the foreseeable future…. The announcement about building 10 PHWRs fits a pattern, often seen with the current government, where it trumpets a routine decision to bolster its “bold” credentials. Most of the plants that were recently approved have been in the pipeline for years. Nevertheless, there is good reason to be sceptical of these plans given that similar plans to build large numbers of reactors have failed to meet their targets, often falling far short.”

South Africa

An extraordinary High Court judgement on April 26 ruled that much of South Africa’s nuclear new-build program is without legal foundation. The High Court set aside the Ministerial determination that South Africa required 9.6 gigawatts (GW) of new nuclear capacity, and found that numerous bilateral nuclear cooperation agreements were unconstitutional and unlawful. President Jacob Zuma is trying to revive the nuclear program, but it will most likely be shelved when Zuma leaves office in 2019 (if he isn’t removed earlier). Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said on June 21 that South Africa will review its nuclear plans as part of its response to economic recession.

South Korea

South Korea’s new President Moon Jae-in said on June 19 that his government will halt plans to build new nuclear power plants and will not extend the lifespan of existing plants beyond 40 years. President Moon said: “We will completely re-examine the existing policies on nuclear power. We will scrap the nuclear-centred polices and move toward a nuclear-free era. We will eliminate all plans to build new nuclear plants.”

Since the presidential election on May 9, the ageing Kori-1 reactor has been permanently shut down, work on two partially-built reactors (Shin Kori 5 and 6) has been suspended pending a review, and work on two planned reactors (Shin-Hanul 3 and 4) has been stopped.

Taiwan

Taiwan’s Cabinet reiterated on June 12 the government’s resolve to phase out nuclear power. The government remains committed to the goal of decommissioning the three operational nuclear power plants as scheduled and making Taiwan nuclear-free by 2025, Cabinet spokesperson Hsu Kuo-yung said.

UK

Tim Yeo, a former Conservative politician and now a nuclear industry lobbyist with New Nuclear Watch Europe, saidthe compounding problems facing nuclear developers in the UK “add up to something of a crisis for the UK’s nuclear new-build programme.”

The lobby group noted delays with the EPR reactor in Flamanville, France and the possibility that those delays would flow on to the two planned EPR reactors at Hinkley Point; the lack of investors for the proposed Advanced Boiling Water Reactors at Wylfa; the acknowledgement by the NuGen consortium that the plan for three AP1000 reactors at Moorside faces a “significant funding gap”; and the fact that the Hualong One technology which China General Nuclear Power Corporation hopes to deploy at Bradwell in Essex has yet to undergo its generic design assessment.

The only reactor project with any momentum in the UK is Hinkley Point, based on the French EPR reactor design. The head of one of Britain’s top utilities said on June 19 that Hinkley Point is likely to be the only nuclear project to go ahead in the UK. Alistair Phillips-Davies, chief executive officer of SSE, an energy supplier and former investor in new nuclear plants, said: “The bottom line in nuclear is that it looks like only Hinkley Point will get built and Flamanville needs to go well for that to happen.”

There is growing pressure for the obscenely expensive Hinkley Point project to be cancelled. The UK National Audit Office report released a damning report on June 23. The Audit Office said: “The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s deal for Hinkley Point C has locked consumers into a risky and expensive project with uncertain strategic and economic benefits… Today’s report finds that the Department has not sufficiently considered the costs and risks of its deal for consumers…. Delays have pushed back the nuclear power plant’s construction, and the expected cost of top-up payments under the Hinkley Point C’s contract for difference has increased from £6 billion to £30 billion.”

Writing in the Financial Times on May 26, Neil Collins said: “EDF, of course, is the contractor for that white elephant in the nuclear room, Hinkley Point. If this unproven design ever gets built and produces electricity, the UK consumer will be obliged to pay over twice the current market price for the output…. The UK’s energy market is in an unholy mess… Scrapping Hinkley Point would not solve all of [the problems], but it would be a start.”

And on it goes. Hinkley Point is one of the “great spending dinosaurs of the political dark ages” according to The Guardian. It is a “white elephant” according to an editorial in The Times.

EDF said on June 26 that it is conducting a “full review of the costs and schedule of the Hinkley Point C project” and the results will be disclosed “soon”. On July 3, EDF announced that the estimated cost of the two Hinkley reactors has risen by €2.5 billion (to €23.2 billion, or €30.4 billion including finance costs). In 2007, EDF was boasting that Britons would be using electricity from Hinkley to cook their Christmas turkeys in December 2017. But in its latestannouncement, EDF pushes back the 2025 start-up dates for the two Hinkley reactors by 9‒15 months.

Oliver Tickell and Ian Fairlie wrote an obituary for Britain’s nuclear renaissance in The Ecologist on May 18. Theyconcluded: “[T]he prospects for new nuclear power in the UK have never been gloomier. The only way new nuclear power stations will ever be built in the UK is with massive political and financial commitment from government. That commitment is clearly absent. So yes, this finally looks like the end of the UK’s ‘nuclear renaissance’.”

Switzerland

Voters in Switzerland supported a May 21 referendum on a package of energy policy measures including a ban on new nuclear power reactors. Thus Switzerland has opted for a gradual nuclear phase out and all reactors will probably be closed by the early 2030s, if not earlier.

Germany will close its last reactor much sooner than Switzerland, in 2022.

Sweden

Unit 1 of the Oskarshamn nuclear power plant in Sweden has been permanently shut down. Unit 2 at the same plant was permanently shut down in 2015. Ringhals 1 and 2 are expected to be shut down in 2019‒2020, after which Sweden will have just six operating power reactors. Switzerland, Germany and Taiwan have made deliberate decisions to phase out nuclear power; in Sweden, the phase out will be attritional.

Russia

Rosatom deputy general director Vyacheslav Pershukov said in mid-June that the world market for the construction of new nuclear power plants is shrinking, and the possibilities for building new large reactors abroad are almost exhausted. He said Rosatom expects to be able to find customers for new reactors until 2020‒2025 but “it will be hard to continue.”

China

With 36 power reactors and another 22 under construction, China is the only country with a significant nuclear expansion program. However nuclear growth could take a big hit in the event of economic downturn. And nuclear growth could be derailed by a serious accident, which is all the more likely because of China’s inadequate nuclear safety standards, inadequate regulation, lack of transparency, repression of whistleblowers, world’s worst insurance and liability arrangements, security risks, and widespread corruption.

Dr Jim Green is the national nuclear campaigner with Friends of the Earth, Australia, and editor of the World Information Service on Energy’s Nuclear Monitor newsletter.

July 10, 2017 Posted by | 2 WORLD, business and costs, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, politics, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, UK, USA | Leave a comment

Climate change affecting huge numbers of children in Africa

Climate change’s brutal toll on Africanewsroom, 9 Jul 17   United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund The vast majority of child migrants uprooted by violence, poverty and climate change remain in Africa, write UNICEF’s Lachlan Forsyth and Patrick Rose

The vast majority of child migrants uprooted by violence, poverty and climate change remain in Africa, according to a new report by child rights organisation UNICEF.

It is a bitter irony that the countries that have done the least to cause climate change are going to suffer the most. Countries that have minuscule carbon footprints are going to be the first to suffer the consequences of flooding, drought and displacement.

In West and Central Africa, the impact of climate change will be especially severe, with the region set to experience a 3 to 4 degree rise in temperature this century – more than one and a half times higher than anywhere else on the planet.

For the millions of people living in this vast region, longer droughts and intense storms will make farming and herding more difficult, and people will be forced to seek a better life.

Already, children account for more than half of the 12 million West and Central African people on the move each year. Contrary to many opinions, 75 percent of them remain in sub-Saharan Africa, with fewer than one in five heading to Europe.

This current wave of migrants is just the start of a swelling humanitarian crisis. Migration involving children and young people is likely to increase due to rapid population growth and urbanisation, climate change, inequitable economic development, and persistent conflict.

Poverty is a powerful driver of migration in West and Central Africa. Countries with high levels of poverty are more likely to be a source of migration as people look to improve their lot in life. In interviews conducted by UNICEF, migrants describe the feeling of ‘having nothing to lose,’ aware that by migrating they are taking a risk, but it is a gamble that might pay off.

Helene is one of them. She is 14 years old, holding a sign saying “I am a child, and not a commodity.”……..

With drought and temperatures intensifying in West and Central Africa, tensions in accessing scarce resources for cattle are also increasing hostilities in many rural areas, pushing greater numbers of people towards cities. But with more than 100 million people living in coastal cities less than one metre above sea level, even conservative estimates of a sea-level rise could result in the forced displacement of millions of climate refugees as people seek safety for their families and children.

For organisations like UNICEF, the challenges are enormous and complex. Aid money can only fix so much, when monumental societal changes are required also. Until the root causes of poverty are addressed, and solutions provided in the form of economic opportunities, access to health care and access to quality education, people are likely to continue to take dangerous risks migrating for better opportunities.

Unless the long-term planning of governments and civil society is equipped to anticipate these climate shocks and subsequent migration, the unmitigated impact of these forces will create detrimental outcomes for children across the region.

To read the full UNICEF report, click  here  https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2017/07/09/37772/climate-changes-brutal-toll-on-africa

July 10, 2017 Posted by | AFRICA, children, climate change | Leave a comment

South Africa’s govt and nuclear power utility Eskom undermine renewable energy development

Nuclear and coal lobbies threaten to scupper renewables in South Africa The Conversation,  Hartmut Winkler
Professor of Physics, University of Johannesburg June 27, 2017 South African power utility Eskom recently repeated that it will not conclude supply contracts with the developers of new renewable energy power stations. These developers were selected under a programme to facilitate private sector involvement in the building of medium-sized renewable energy power stations.

The programme has won plaudits for its success in facilitating the establishment of multiple solar and wind farms in record time. But Eskom is once again stalling.

The power utility’s stand threatens the viability of the entire renewable energy sector in the country. It’s hostility also defies logic given that the whole world is embracing renewable energy as key to a clean energy future and combating climate change.

So what lies behind the opposition?

The answer lies in the fact that two powerful lobbies are at work in South Africa. One is pro-coal, the other pro-nuclear. This has made the success of the renewable energy projects a target for attacks from interested parties in both. Disrupting the renewable energy sector would ensure that the coal sector remains dominant. And that, over time, it is gradually displaced by nuclear.

The lobby groups attached to coal and nuclear appear to have had powerful allies on the state utility’s board. There is mounting evidence that they have been furthering the interests of a group linked to the Gupta family. It in turn has been accused of capturing state entities to further its own ends, as well as those of President Jacob Zuma, his family and allies.

t has also been widely argued that the massively expensive proposed nuclear build is being driven by the same interest groups.

The battle over renewables is therefore closely linked to a wider political confrontation over control of key aspects of the South African economy.

Eskom’s flawed argument

The renewables dispute centres on the state utility’s refusal to endorse 1121 MW of new renewable energy….

The Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown has been disingenuous in citing cost as a reason to stop the last phase of renewables. The higher costs she recently quoted were presumably those associated with the first round of renewable energy projects. These contracts were concluded in 2012 and prices for renewables have come down considerably since.

For its part Eskom has pointed to the oversupply of electricity as the reason for its objection. But elsewhere it has trumpeted the need for more nuclear power. It can’t have it both ways.

Powerful forces at play

Until two years ago Eskom was seen as a neutral player committed to effectively provide electric power in the best interests of the country. It threw its weight behind previous power procurement plans.

But that all changed in 2015 after Brian Molefe was appointed CEO.

Molefe and his successor Matshela Koko are both linked to the controversial Gupta family. Their names featured in the Public Protector’s State of Capture report as well as in a bulk leak of emails which implicated the Guptas and other leading figures in the state capture network.

Molefe and Koko played a pivotal role in helping the Guptas purchase a coal mine – the Optimum mine – and to secure a lucrative coal supply contract with Eskom. Both are also strongly pro-nuclear. They have also gone on record to argue that renewable energy is too expensive……https://theconversation.com/nuclear-and-coal-lobbies-threaten-to-scupper-renewables-in-south-africa-79799

June 28, 2017 Posted by | politics, renewable, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

Nuclear deal with Russia is central to the corruption in South Africa

There’s more to state capture than meets the eye, News24, Sipho Pityana, 23 June 17, The leadership crisis and the ravaging uncertainty that South Africa is going through now affect all of us.

I say this because the ethical failures committed by Zuma are not confined to the president’s office. They are cascading down, like a disease, into every aspect of South African life. They are killing our country, and killing us with it. Every extra day Zuma remains in power, this erosion continues and our crisis deepens.

Zuma’s strategy is simple: keep the ANC firmly captured by stealing the leadership elections at the party’s elective conference in December, and install his protégé. His successor as president of the ANC – and, subsequently, the country – would make sure that he not only stays out of jail, but also that the state capture project continues unabated…….

 I believe it is true that the fish rots from the head. The problem we face, as South Africans, is that the rot is so advanced that it’s already approaching the tail. And unless we act soon, this beautiful creature that we call South Africa will soon be a rotten pile of bones…..
The state capture project, with Zuma at its epicenter, is effectively an international crime syndicate. It is a global mafia operation involving business and sometimes state interests in China, Russia, Asia, the Middle East and several African countries……..

Finally, there is Russia. The Russians have a very, very keen interest in the nuclear energy deals that the president allegedly signed irregularly on our behalf, which our courts have now stalled. There are billions of rands at stake. We have already seen indications that a deal is in the making, and there are consistent allegations that the captains of state capture, Zuma and the Guptas, have already received – or at least stand to get – massive kickbacks from any Russian nuclear energy deal.Given the scale of the deals (estimated at about R1.8 trillion), even a small kickback is going to run into hundreds of millions. And, as we’ve seen from the various reports on state capture – from the SACC, the Public Affairs Research Institute and the former Public Protector herself – the kickbacks are never small.

So if you join the dots: in effect, and based merely on the uncontested evidence we have at hand, we have a president and his cronies who stand at the centre of a global crime network that involves China, Russia, Asia, the Middle East and certain parts of Africa.

…….you have a South African president with an even more broken ethical compass than Trump? A president who is prepared to let business interests take precedence over the national interest? A president who is prepared to sell his own country to the highest bidder?……….

 – Pityana is the convenor of the Save South Africa campaign. This is an edited version of a speech on ethics he delivered at the annual meeting of the Marketing Code Authority in Johannesburg on 22 June…….http://www.news24.com/Columnists/GuestColumn/theres-more-to-state-capture-than-meets-the-eye-20170623

June 24, 2017 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

R1 trillion nuclear power project still happening, says South African President Jacob Zuma

Zuma: The Nuclear Deal Is Still Happening, Folks He says nuclear power stations will eventually bring the country profits once they are built. Huff Post, Amil Umraw, Politics Reporter  23/06/2017 South Africa’s controversial nuclear build programme is still very much on the cards.

In his responses to parliamentary questions on Thursday, President Jacob Zuma said government still intends to pursue the acquisition of nuclear power stations at a “pace and scale” that the country can afford…..

He denied that the deal is going to push the agenda of any country, especially Russia.

However, Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi reportedly told a delegation at a nuclear conference in Moscow on Wednesday that the deal would be awarded to the “most experienced people who have a track record”.

Kubayi reportedly met Russian Energy minister Alexander Novak and Rosatom head Alexei Likhachev during her visit. Rosatom is a Russian state company believed to be the strongest contender for the award of the nuclear contract.

The nuclear build programme was dealt a blow by the Cape Town High Court after Earthlife Africa and the Southern Africa Faith-Communities’ Environmental Institute successfully challenged the way in which the state determined the country’s nuclear power needs. The plan would have seen South Africa purchasing 9 600 megawatts of extra nuclear power.

The programme is expected to cost the country around R1 trillion.http://www.huffingtonpost.co.za/2017/06/22/zuma-the-nuclear-deal-is-still-happening-folks_a_22580816/

June 24, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Vulnerable to Climate Change – Mphampha, Malawi

From heatwaves to hurricanes, floods to famine: seven climate change hotspots  Global warming will not affect everyone equally. Here we look at seven key regions to see how each is tackling the consequences of climate change, Guardian, John Vidal, 23 June 17

Mphampha, Malawi

Late last year, the temperature in southern Malawi in southern Africa rose to more than 46C. A long regional drought crossing Zimbabwe, Zambia, Madagascar and Tanzania had scorched and killed the staple maize crop and millions of people who had not seen rain for more than a year depended on food aid. Long-term climate data in southern Africa is sparse, but studies backed by oral evidence from villagers confirm the region is a climate hotspot where droughts are becoming more frequent, rains less regular, food supplies less certain, and the dry spells and floods are lasting longer.

With more than 90% of Malawi and the region depending on rain-fed agriculture, it does not need scientists to tell people that the climate is changing. I sat down with villagers near Nsanje in the south of Malawi.

“I know what it is to go hungry,” says Elvas Munthali, a Malawian aid worker. “My family depended on farming. The climate is changing. Now we plant maize at the end of December or even January; we used to do that in November.”

Patrick Kamzitu, a health worker in Nambuma, says: “It is much warmer now. The rains come and we plant but then there is a dry spell. The dry spells and the rains are heavier but shorter.”

One of best studies comes from the Chiwawa district near Nsanje, close to the Mozambique border. Detailed research by the University of Malawi, backed by 50 years of rainfall and temperature data, established that rains, floods, strong winds, high temperatures and droughts were all becoming more common.

The story is more or less repeated across southern Africa and backed by governments and scientific modeling. USAid, the African Development Bank, the World Bank and IPCC assessments suggest average annual temperatures rose nearly 1C between 1960 and 2006.

Looking ahead, scientists expect average annual temperatures across southern Africa to soar, possibly as much as 3C by the 2060s, to 5C by the 2090s – a temperature that would render most human life nearly impossible. But estimates vary greatly. Rainfall, says USAid, could decrease in some places by 13% and increase in others by 32%.

All African countries know that they must adapt their farming, restore their forests, improve their water supplies and grow their economies quickly to have any chance of surviving climate change. But the adaptation money pledged to these, the world’s poorest countries, by the rich at successive UN climate summits has barely started to trickle through.

Changes could be catastrophic. In North Africa, Egypt could lose 15% of its wheat crop if temperatures increase 2C – 36% if they rise 4C. Morocco expects crop yields to remain stable up to about 2030, but then to drop quickly afterward.

Conversely, a study of 11 west African countries from the International Food Policy Research Institute expects some farmers to be able to grow more food as temperatures rise and rainfall increases. Climate change may mean Nigeria, Ghana and Togo can grow and export more sorghum, raised for grain.

But most African countries are extremely vulnerable to climate change and have no reason to expect it will improve their lot. Instead of waiting for western money, they are pressing ahead where they can with water conservation, tree planting and small-scale irrigation schemes. Drought and flood resistant crops are being adopted by the few, but the odds of more severe droughts and floods are high and the resources to resist them are slim…..https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/jun/23/from-heatwaves-to-hurricanes-floods-to-famine-seven-climate-change-hotspots?CMP=share_btn_tw

June 24, 2017 Posted by | climate change, Malawi | Leave a comment

President Zuma “knows nothing” about nuclear corruption in South Africa, or his family benefiting

ZUMA ‘HAS NO KNOWLEDGE’ OF HIS FAMILY BENEFITING FROM NUCLEAR PROGRAMME http://ewn.co.za/2017/06/22/zuma-has-no-knowledge-of-his-family-benefiting-from-nuclear-programme, President Jacob Zuma said the government will pursue a nuclear power project at a pace and scale that the country can afford. Rahima Essop CAPE TOWN – President Jacob Zuma has told the National Assembly he has no knowledge of his family benefitting from South Africa’s proposed nuclear build programme.

He was responding to a question by Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane, who asked him directly, whether he or any of his family members have received payments related to the project.

Zuma was asked questions about state capture, the recession and his government’s nuclear power ambitions.

The president was terse in his response to Maimane’s frank question about the possibility of corruption in the proposed nuclear build programme.

Zuma said the government would pursue a nuclear power project at a pace and scale that the country could afford.

He also reaffirmed the state’s position that nuclear is a clean and reliable form of energy.

Earlier this year, the Western Cape High Court dealt a legal blow to government’s plans when it found certain agreements related to the project were unconstitutional and unlawful.

June 23, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma says South Africa is committed to nuclear power expansion

South Africa committed to nuclear power expansion, process to be open – Zuma, http://www.reuters.com/article/safrica-politics-nuclear-idUSJ8N1H5007

South Africa is committed to an “open, transparent” process to build new nuclear power plants and the government planned to go through with its plans for nuclear expansion, President Jacob Zuma told parliament on Thursday.

South Africa is planning to build 9,600 megawatts (MW) of nuclear capacity, a project that could be one of the world’s biggest nuclear contracts in decades.

But Energy Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said on Wednesday in Moscow that the plans will be reviewed as the country is in a recession. (Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Writing by Ed Stoddard; Editing by James Macharia)

June 23, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Russia marketing nuclear power to Uganda

Uganda Could Become The First African Country To Develop Nuclear Power http://www.konbini.com/ng/lifestyle/uganda-could-become-the-first-african-country-to-develop-nuclear-power/ by Odunayo Eweniyi , 22 June 17 Like there’s not enough wrong in Africa right now, Uganda has signed a deal with Russia to develop uranium into nuclear power for peaceful purposes. Not to mention that it’s really suspicious that Russia seems intent on handing nuclear power to anyone and everyone who will take it. But let’s not worry, they said it’s for peaceful purposes.

Uganda’s State Minister for Minerals, Simon D’Ujanga and Russia’s Deputy Director-General of Rosatom State Atomic Energy Corporation, Nikolai Spasskiy, signed the Memorandum of Understanding in Moscow, and it includes collaboration in the areas of radiological and physical security, fundamental and applied researches, human resource training, and nuclear research centres.

The discussions with Russia started last October, shortly after the launch of the Uganda-Russian Joint Permanent Commission, an inter-governmental framework for economic, scientific and technical cooperation.

 Uganda also has ongoing discussions with China to help develop peaceful nuclear power. This agreement with Russia comes just a month after a team from Uganda’s Ministry of Energy travelled to meet with the Zhonguan Engineering Corporation (CZEC), a subsidiary of China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC).

At least 8 countries in Africa are actively considering starting nuclear programs – Nigeria (don’t laugh), Ghana, Senegal, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Namibia; but the question is why? Emerging countries like the ones listed generally do not have the expertise for this, so as opposed to focusing on building and relying on licenses from developed countries who arguably have their own agendas when sponsoring developments like this one in African countries, why don’t we focus on building the expertise first?

And African countries are largely unable to manage the present grid system that we have, where do we get the assurance that they can manage nuclear power plants, which they say are built for peaceful purposes, but could just as easily harm citizens?

June 23, 2017 Posted by | AFRICA, marketing, Russia | Leave a comment