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Mahlobo must accept death knell of South Africa’s Nuclear Deal – Gavin Davis

Mahlobo must accept death knell of Nuclear Deal – Gavin Davis, Politics Web, Gavin Davis | 22 February 2018

DA MP says President must stop the gazetting of Integrated Resource Plan
Nuclear Deal: Ramaphosa must stop the gazetting of the Integrated Resource Plan

22 February 2018

Minister Gigaba’s Budget Speech, which contained no funding for a new nuclear build, should signal the death knell of the nuclear deal.

The time has come for Minister Mahlobo to accept that his attempt to deliver the nuclear deal has failed. With Zuma gone, he has outlasted his usefulness and should be removed from Cabinet without delay.

The Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), that was apparently approved by the Zuma Cabinet in December, left the door open for a new nuclear build. This was despite every credible study rejecting new investment in nuclear as part of the IRP and recommending investment in renewables and gas instead.

We call on President Ramaphosa to put a stop to the gazetting of Mahlobo’s IRP. Instead, Minister Mahlobo should be removed from office and a new Minister appointed to ensure that the new IRP is based on the latest cutting-edge modelling and research……..

We need an IRP that favours clean, reliable energy at the lowest cost. We don’t need a nuclear deal and, as Minister Gigaba has made clear, we cannot afford it. So let’s shut the door on this corrupt nuclear deal once and for all. http://www.politicsweb.co.za/politics/nuclear-deal-mahlobo-must-accept-death-knell–gavi

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February 24, 2018 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Not just Russian but ANY nuclear new-build is a poor choice for South Africa

South Africa’s Electricity Choice, Part 4: The dangers of dealing with Russia, Daily Maverick, ANTON EBERHARD & AMORY LOVINS, SOUTH AFRICA, 19 FEB 2018 

Read parts 1, 2 and 3 of this series here, here and here

        .

Courts may have struck down the nuclear agreement between South Africa and Russia but ministers in the Zuma government have indicated they are not done discussing nuclear power and Russian involvement. This is of major concern to many – not only because of a possible compromise in SA’s national sovereignty and independence but also due to the ulterior motives Russia might have due to its economic troubles and the dubious need to build nuclear power plants despite lacking the capital to finance it.

Procurement and financial risks

South African officials have made a wide range of statements in the past few years about whether the government intends a “fair, transparent and competitive procurement process”, or a process with that form but not its substance (as vendors may expect), or an opaque direct negotiation between the South African government and another government, most likely that of the Russian Federation. During a series of private presidential meetingsover the past seven years, these two countries concluded an unusually strong and specific nuclear agreement. It gave Russia a veto over South Africa’s nuclear co-operation with any other country, enabled Russia to withhold any data it wishes from public scrutiny, exempted Russia from any accident liability and promised Russia favourable tax and financial treatment. While denying favouritism, South Africa did not appear to have offered similar terms to any other potential partner. Though the April 2017 decision of the Western Cape High Court set aside this agreement, officials have continued to imply that a nuclear deal with the Russians is likely……..

 is Russia a credible and reliable financial partner? Its National Wealth Fund, estimated at $72-billion, is under pressure; by early 2015 it was already overextended by $24-billion pledged to finance nuclear exports to four countries. (Those included the Hungarian Paks nuclear deal, whose low-interest loan commitment helped crash Russia’s foreign-trade bank needing an $18-billion bailout.) About another $64-billion would be needed to fulfil other offers already extended. And even that couldn’t go far if more than a handful of deals were like the proposed Bangladeshi Rooppur plant mentioned above – 90% financed ($12-billion) at 2.55 percent annual interest with a 10-year grace period, then an 18-year repayment.

Rosatom, the self-regulated state nuclear enterprise, is led by a former prime minister reporting to President Vladimir Putin and exempted from all normal state controls. Independent experts agree that Rosatom (or any other state entity) would be lucky to build half the 30 additional nuclear projects it’s trying to sell for $300-billion to a dozen more countries including South Africa. Russia’s interest rate in early 2016 was twice (and in an earlier spike, over three times) what any coal-competitive nuclear project would require. The Russian state’s capacity to absorb the spread is quickly vanishing. Russia’s domestic reactor starts halved in 2015; all state nuclear subsidies are to halt in 2016. Yet without those subsidies, “Rosatom wouldn’t complete a single project anywhere”.

Russia needs huge amounts of outside capital to finance its nuclear commitments. …….

Not just Russian but any nuclear new-build is a poor choice for South Africa. It cannot compete with efficiency and renewables, by every relevant measure: cost, timeliness, financing, jobs, economic development, environmental and safety risk, independence, security, abundance of eternally free local energy sources, and the social good of “energy democracy”. These goals support and are advanced by the agenda of “an electricity sector that will deliver, transparently, competitively, reliably and sustainably, the electric services that will power economic growth and improve the welfare of all our people”.

It has come to this: ever more sales-starved nuclear vendors, seeking ever less solvent customers, now offer a risky project the seller can’t finance to a customer who can’t pay – a customer with no need, enchanted by the same nuclear devotees whose broken promises already cost the nation dearly, and with no apparent accountability.

South Africans deserve, and politics or markets will ultimately deliver, reliable and affordable electrical services – enough, for all, for ever. At issue is how much money, time and opportunity for national advancement will be lost before South Africa finally abandons the folly of procuring new nuclear power plants.    https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2018-02-19-south-africas-electricity-choice-part-4-the-dangers-of-dealing-with-russia/#.WoyRylpubGg

 

February 21, 2018 Posted by | politics, Russia, South Africa | Leave a comment

Hopes that South Africa’s new president will scrap nuclear deal

Greenpeace Africa hopes Ramaphosa will scrap nuclear deal https://www.iol.co.za/business-report/energy/greenpeace-africa-hopes-ramaphosa-will-scrap-nuclear-deal-13320867 16 FEBRUARY 2018 CAPE TOWN – “We trust that president Cyril Ramaphosa will listen to the massive opposition from the South African public and leave the dodgy nuclear deal far behind,” Greenpeace Africa said on Friday.

The South African civil society groups and opposition parties have been pushing back on government’s plan to add 9 600 megawatts of electricity to the grid through nuclear plants.

Happy Khambule, the political advisor at Greenpeace Africa notes that there is a tough job ahead for the new leadership of the country. “We believe one of the most pressing issues is to start to create stability, increase trust in the country’s government, and to choose a new pathway in establishing transparency and accountability in the energy sector”.

In an interview with the eNCA, Khambule has said that they will utilize all communication platforms at their availability to engage with the relevant government departments in ensuring that Greanpeace influences Ramaphosa’s decisions on energy matters.

Greenpeace Africa also looks forward to the new Integrated Resource Plan and calls on Ramaphosa to “stop that coal”.

Khambule feels that there was a distant relationship between the former president Jacob Zuma and the energy advocacy groups.

“It is time to remove the barriers to renewable energy, which can enable the achievement of universal access to energy and power disadvantaged communities much faster and at a cost South Africans can afford. We call on the President to push ahead with a renewable-powered future that will not leave South Africans in the dark,” this organisation said in a statement.

Ramaphosa recently commented at the World Economic Forum in Davos, that South Africa had “excess power right now and we have no money to go for major nuclear plant building”.

Melita Steele, the senior campaign manager at Greenpeace Africa said, “Greenpeace has long argued that nuclear is never safe, and is simply unaffordable”.

She further said that the organisation looks forward to the updated IRP without the inclusion of crushing nuclear energy investments.

Meanwhile, Ramaphosa will soon elect his new cabinet and the Energy Minister, David Mahlobo is unlikely to retain his position, according to lobby groups and economists.

Wayne Duvenage, the CEO of the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse told Business Report that Mahlobo has limited experience on energy and his appointment as the Energy Minister was based on Zuma’s interest in speeding up the nuclear deal with Russia. “Ramaphosa will be problematic with him in this regard”.

February 17, 2018 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Warning to South Africa – on nuclear dependence to Russia

Chasing nuclear energy could lead to capture – expert https://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/chasing-nuclear-energy-could-lead-to-capture-expert-13222078 11 FEBRUARY 2018  Cape Town – A leading oil and gas lawyer and African entrepreneur has warned South Africa against pursuing nuclear energy, saying any proposed deal might come with political pressure which could lead to “capture”.

NJ Ayuk, who is widely recognised as one of the top influential businessman in the sector globally, said there was no reason for South Africa to consider nuclear energy and instead it should invest in clean renewable energy to create jobs and grow its economy.

Ayuk said the consideration for nuclear could lead to the country succumbing to external pressures.

“We need to stop having short-term fixes to our challenges. If we continue to look to other powers for solutions, we will have to succumb to what they want. Is that what South Africa wants?” he asked.

With South Africa’s bid for a non-permanent seat on the UN’s Security Council this year, Ayuk warned if the country were to consider nuclear energy and partner with another country, this would diminish its position on the influential body.

Speculation about South Africa seeking partnership with Russia has come to the fore over the past year, with the government denying that a deal had been made.

“Do you want a member of the Security Council that’s dependent on another country for its energy security and needs? Africa needs a representative that will articulate its views and not one that will be perceived to be captured by another strong power,” he said.

For decades South Africa relied on coal for electricity and synthetic fuel production but needs to look at other energy sources to meet its climate change commitments.

Recent studies have also shown a decline in global demand for coal.

“Renewable energy must be the core part of the energy mix as it has the potential to alleviate poverty. We need to put in the right investment in it. It will create jobs and allow small businesses to participate in the sector,” he said.

He said the country and other African countries endowed with mineral resources should start looking at establishing an enabling environment for investments and growth in the sector.

Ayuk said the political change in South Africa gave hope that there would be a re-focus on the energy sector and that “homegrown” solutions for energy problems would be found.

“We have to be futuristic. It doesn’t help any country to have big projects and the skills cannot be found within it because jobs are not created or if they are they are low skilled jobs”, Ajuk said.

He also advocated better management of mineral resources throughout the continent and better frameworks to “empower communities”.

“Africa needs to start thinking of sharing skills and expertise to create intra-trade. We have the technology in most of the countries, we need to enhance what we already have.”

February 12, 2018 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s nuclear decommissioning dilemma

Why decommissioning South Africa’s Koeberg nuclear plant won’t be easy The Conversation,  Hartmut Winkler, Professor of Physics, University of Johannesburg, January 26, 2018 

Africa’s only operational nuclear power plant is in an area called Koeberg, outside Cape Town in South Africa. The life span of the plant was originally meant to end in 2024. But after an upgrade it’s now expected to operate until around 2044.

In theory it could be shut down, or decommissioned, earlier than if, for example, there was a spike in anti-nuclear sentiment, it becomes unprofitable or a serious technical failure developed……

The funding for decommissioning, which is an expensive process, needs to be secured well in advance. Failing to decommission the site properly would saddle Cape Town with a dangerous radiation hazard for generations to come.

Responsibility for Koeberg’s site rehabilitation rests with its operator, the state electricity utility, Eskom. For now decommissioning Koeberg is not a priority for Eskom’s newly appointed board given its need to deal with the financial pressure and allegations of corruption the utility is facing.

But it will nevertheless need to start planning soon……….

All nuclear power plants accredited by the International Atomic Energy Agency must regularly set aside funds to finance the eventual decommissioning. By 2016, Eskom had paid R10.9 billion into a trust for this purpose.

But these provisions seem insufficient and the utility will probably need to raise additional funding to shut down Koeberg.

Eskom is responsible to pay for the site’s rehabilitation, but not for final waste disposal. The funding of that process ultimately becomes the responsibility of the state.

Waste from Koeberg

The arrangement is that low and intermediate-level nuclear waste is transported to a site called Vaalputs in sparsely populated Namakwaland, about 500 km north of Cape Town. High-level waste is kept on site in Koeberg in what are known as fuel pools.

South Africa doesn’t have storage facilities for its high-level waste. Like the rest of the world, construction of nuclear plants was initiated without a specific waste disposal plan, with the understanding that each country would manage and pay for it themselves.

Unfortunately South Africa is likely to approach decommissioning Koeberg in the same way other countries have done it – by effectively leaving the waste on site indefinitely in temporary storage facilities. This avoids the expense of waste processing as well as making difficult political decisions. But it passes the problem to future generations while continuing to expose the nuclear plant’s neighbourhood to contamination risk. This is a serious risk at Koeberg given that it’s a mere 30 km from the Cape Town city centre.

Koeberg’s decommissioning is an awkward reality that cannot be ignored for much longer. This should become the main focus for nuclear professionals in South Africa, rather than new plants. Eskom and other parties in the energy space need to develop detailed, credible decommissioning work plans with realistic costing scenarios and funding strategies. A crisis can be avoided, but only through early and proper planning. https://theconversation.com/why-decommissioning-south-africas-koeberg-nuclear-plant-wont-be-easy-89888

February 10, 2018 Posted by | decommission reactor, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s nuclear power should end -five reasons

Five facts that prove South Africa’s nuclear power plan should die  https://mg.co.za/article/2018-02-01-five-facts-that-prove-south-africas-nuclear-power-plan-should-die  Anton Eberhard 

Under the presidency of Jacob Zuma, South Africa has been trying to implement a massive new nuclear programme. The initiative stood against a growing body of evidence pointing to the fact that nuclear isn’t needed, is too costly and is hard to finance. There is also the fact that the case for renewables looks increasingly favourable than nuclear. And last year, civil society groups secured a court order that halted the nuclear build programme temporarily on grounds that government had not followed due consultative process.

But Zuma has insisted on the nuclear programme, going so far as to appoint a minister to the energy portfolio who continues to argue that the country needs nuclear energy. But the facts are still against him, as they were against the previous four ministers who failed to deliver Zuma’s nuclear project.

The argument against nuclear energy can be broken down into five key themes.

1. Large chunks of new power aren’t needed

South Africa has surplus energy capacity. Along with new capacity that is coming online, the country does not need nuclear power to meet electricity demand for many years, despite the scheduled closure of some old coal plants. In fact, demand has fallen in South Africa and is lower than it was a decade ago.

This is not simply a result of slow economic growth. Steep hikes in electricity prices have accelerated investments in energy efficiency and electricity savings.

The structure of South Africa’s economy is also changing with the energy-intensive primary sector declining and the tertiary and services sector accounting for a larger share of the economy.

2. Good news on renewables

At the same time, renewable energy prices have plummeted globally and rival or even undercut the operating costs of many existing nuclear or fossil-fuelled power stations. Within just one year (2016), world costs for new onshore windpower fell by 18%, for offshore wind by 28%, and for utility-scale photovoltaics (PV) by 17%, while low bids fell 37% for Mexican PV and 43% for EU offshore wind. In South Africa, transparent auctions have already cut solar PV electricity prices by close to 80% and wind energy by nearly 50%.

Government’s nuclear policy consistently cites as its analytic basis the Integrated Resource Plan(IRP) for Electricity 2010 to 2030, formally published in May 2011 and updated several times since then. But over this time, the economic rationale for nuclear, never particularly strong, has weakened considerably. So much so that nuclear energy is not picked in any South African modelling scenarios, other than one where artificial constraints are placed on how much solar and wind energy can be built and where additional carbon budget limits are imposed. Even in this extreme scenario, nuclear energy might only be required after 2039.

Instead, the models favour solar and wind plus gas as the cheapest option for sustainable electricity supply. Renewables also perform well on the question of reliability. A recent engineering studyconfirms that the South African power system will be sufficiently flexible to handle very large amounts of wind and solar power generation to cope with increased flexibility requirements.

3. Nuclear power is dying globally

Global nuclear enterprise is slowly dying from an incurable attack of market forces. Financial distress stalks vendors, with cascading insolvencies spreading in the past two years. Construction cost and delays keep rising worldwide.

The global nuclear industry continues to suffer major risks of project failure or abandonment. For example, of 259 US nuclear units ordered between 1955-2016, 128 (49%) were abandoned before start-up and 34 (13%) prematurely closed later. Of the 97 units (37%) operating in mid-2017, 49 were deemed uneconomic to run; 35 suffered 45 year-plus safety-related outages. And only 28 units (11%) remain economically viable.

By contrast, renewable energy is dominating new investment in power generation worldwide. Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates renewable energy will capture 72% of global power generation investment by 2040 as costs drop by a further 66% for solar power, 47% for onshore wind, and 71% for inshore wind plants.

China has generated more wind power than nuclear electricity since 2012. India has quadrupled its renewables target and is planning 100 GW of solar power (now cheaper than coal power) by 2022. Over three billion people now get more non-hydro renewable than nuclear electricity, in three of the world’s four top economies (China, Germany, Japan) and in Brazil, India, Mexico, Holland, Spain, and the United Kingdom.

4. Renewable energy is good for business

The International Renewable Energy Agency has found that worldwide, doubling renewables’ energy share by 2030 could raise global GDP up to 1.1%, improve welfare up to 3.7%, and support over 24 million renewable-energy jobs.

In South Africa, important economic benefits have already been seen due to renewable energy initiatives. These have created a total of 32 532 job years.

Renewable energy projects also aid development in previously marginalised and disadvantaged groups and communities. Thanks to novel economic development criteria built into South Africa’s world-recognised renewable energy independent power producer programme. Black South Africans own, on average, 31% of projects that have reached completion. Black local communities further own on average 11% of the equity of projects.

5. The Russians can’t be trusted

The above facts demonstrate that nuclear lacks a business case for South Africa, whichever country provides the technology. But there is special cause for concern about South Africa’s proposed nuclear deal with Russia. During a series of private presidential meetings over the past seven years, South Africa concluded an unusually strong and specific nuclear agreement with Russia, since struck down by the courts.

Concerns are several. Firstly, a deal which makes South Africa dependent on Russia for a large share of electricity supply – as well as for nuclear safety – must raise serious questions about South African national sovereignty and independence.

Additionally, Russia is facing economic challenges, sliding in terms of rated world economies to number 15, below Mexico. Sovereign debt is a real concern and low oil prices and Western sanctions in response to Russia’s aggression towards the Ukraine and other areas are making matters worse.

Russia wants to build nuclear power plants but needs huge amounts of capital to finance its nuclear commitments around the world. It hardly appears to be a stable financial partner.

A rational choice is needed

South Africans deserve reliable and affordable electrical services. At issue is how much money, time, and opportunity for national advancement will be lost before the country finally abandons the folly of procuring new nuclear power plants.

Amory Lovins, chief scientist at Rocky Mountain Institute, co-authored this article.

Anton Eberhard, Professor at the Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

 

February 2, 2018 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Not easy, nor cheap, to shut down South Africa’s Koeberg nuclear plant

The Conversation 25th Jan 2018, Why decommissioning South Africa’s Koeberg nuclear plant won’t be easy.
Koeberg has two units, each generating 930 MW, which contribute about 4% of
South Africa’s power capacity. They were built by French developer
Framatome, now called Areva.

Researchers in France, Germany and the UK have
calculated widely different costs for nuclear cleanups (including waste
disposal) in their countries. The potential cost of decommissioning a site
comparable to Koeberg according to the French costing model would be R8.4
billion. Some analysts say this is unrealistically low. The German model
puts the number at around R39 billion and the UK model at R76 billion.
https://theconversation.com/why-decommissioning-south-africas-koeberg-nuclear-plant-wont-be-easy-89888

January 27, 2018 Posted by | decommission reactor, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa has no money for nuclear power: Ramaphosa

SA has no money for nuclear power: Ramaphosa, ENC.com, SOUTH AFRICA, JOHANNESBURG – “We have excess power right now and we have no money to go for major nuclear plant building.”

January 26, 2018 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Clear danger of South Africa’s energy company Eskom defaulting on its debt

S&P Sees ‘Clear Danger’ of Default by South Africa’s Eskom, Bloomberg, By Loni Prinsloo, January 18, 2018, 

  • Yields on Eskom’s dollar bonds climb after Reuss’s comments
  • Finance Minister Gigaba says Eskom is his ‘biggest worry’
  • There is a “clear danger” that South Africa’s state-owned power utility, Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd., could default on its debt, S&P Global Ratings said.
  • “We are very concerned about liquidity issues,” Konrad Reuss, the managing director of S&P for sub-Saharan Africa, said at an event in Johannesburg Thursday.
  • Eskom is the biggest recipient of state guarantees at a time when domestic power demand is the lowest in more than 10 years and as South Africa’s finances buckle under lower tax revenue and rising debt. The company needs 20 billion rand ($1.6 billion) of funding by the end of its fiscal year on March 31, the Mail & Guardian newspaper reported last week, citing the utility…….. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-01-18/s-p-sees-clear-danger-of-default-by-south-africa-s-eskom

January 19, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Energy Minister – nuclear build will push ahead, regardless of the correct planning system

Nuclear will happen, Fin 24, Dec 10 2017   Dewald van Rensburg  Johannesburg -South Africa would procure several thousand megawatts of new nuclear power generation capacity, new Energy Minister David Mahlobo declared this week.

He would not say exactly how much, but seemingly intends for nuclear to be 20% of the local power supply by 2030……..

This will result in anything between R25 billion and R50 billion more being spent per year on power in South Africa by 2030 – compared with what would happen under a “least cost” strategy involving no new nuclear and no new coal stations, said Bischof-Niemz.

The wide range is due to the question mark over the cost of nuclear.

Having 20% of power come from nuclear was always the plan and was never really up for consultation, Mahlobo said this week.

On Tuesday, he subjected nongovernmental organisations to a two-hour lecture, and then proceeded to give journalists almost the same lecture at a bizarre and hastily arranged energy indaba on Thursday.

This apparent repudiation of South Africa’s existing system for planning energy investments was presented as obvious and uncontested.

Everyone else just misunderstood South Africa’s energy policy, said the former security minister who inherited the energy portfolio after President Jacob Zuma’s Cabinet reshuffle last month.

Mahlobo used the indaba to quietly announce that the long-awaited Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) had already been approved by Cabinet and that there would be no more consultations on it.

This was not said in the main plenary attended by more than 700 people, but told to journalists at a press conference afterwards that was mostly attended by Mahlobo’s staff, who applauded his answers to the journalists’ questions…….

The official programme was a strange mishmash of presentations and then parallel “commissions” to separately discuss coal, renewable energy, gas, liquid fuels and nuclear.

In the commission on renewable energy, the room was awkwardly silent when moderator Nelisiwe Magubane started the session by instructing everyone that “this is not a platform to discuss the IRP”.

There were chuckles and sighs in the room.

When she asked why no one had any questions, there were murmurs: “They’re all about the IRP!”

When a delegate pointed out that the IRP was central to the discussion, Magubane said that it could not be discussed because “the minister had a meeting with civil society and indicated this is not part of the consultation on the IRP”.

At this point, no one in the room knew that Cabinet had already approved the IRP and precluded any further consultations anyway.

Cabinet spokesperson Phumla Williams confirmed this, and said it was not mentioned in the normal Cabinet statement issued this week because it was felt that Mahlobo should announce it.

The news turns the long battle around energy policy on its head and will almost certainly lead to a new court challenge from environmental groups, which earlier this year succeeded in getting the old decision to procure 9 600MW of nuclear scrapped in court.

Up to now, the expectation had been that a new draft IRP would be produced and offer various options and scenarios for future power investments, followed by extensive public consultations.

Not so, said Mahlobo.

According to the minister, the original IRP of 2010 is still in effect and the apportionment of power sources set in 2010 remains the target.

All that will have changed from the original 2010 IRP is the overall forecast of national power demand, Mahlobo said.

This has two major effects – it demotes renewables back down to 9% of the mix and promotes nuclear back up to 20%.

Modelling done early this year with the latest technology costs created a “least cost” outcome that excludes nuclear and massively scales up renewables, which have become far cheaper in recent years……

A draft IRP released late last year was pilloried for setting arbitrary limits on renewables, which had the effect of putting nuclear back into the energy mix the mathematical model proposes.

The department of energy has since refused to provide documentation on how it modelled the cost of nuclear or to justify its limits on renewables, fuelling speculation that the IRP was being rigged to facilitate a nuclear deal.

“Nuclear, we are going to do it,” Mahlobo told journalists.

According to the minister, there will be new nuclear plants in the Western Cape and the Eastern Cape…….https://www.fin24.com/Economy/nuclear-will-happen-20171210-2

December 11, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Energy Minister agrees to follow proper process, on nuclear power development

Business Report 29th Nov 2017, A court challenge to block the South African government from rushing
through a nuclear procurement deal was postponed on Wednesday after Energy
Minister David Mahlobo agreed to follow proper process.

Earthlife Africa Johannesburg (ELA-JHB) and the Southern African Faith Communities’
Environment Institute (SAFCEI) in April won a Cape Town high order stating
that nuclear procurment would not be legal without involving the National
Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) and public participation. “SAFCEI
and ELA came back to court to ask the minsiter of Energy and Eskom to agree
to abide by the court ruling we got in April which said that they may not
procure nuclear energy without proper process and that includes involving
all of us – public participation – in the decision-making process,” SAFCEI
executive director Francesca de Gasparis said.
https://www.iol.co.za/business-report/energy/ngos-take-on-sa-energy-minister-on-nuclear-power-12194414

December 4, 2017 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s anti nuclear movement ready for President Zuma’s next pro nuclear move

Zuma’s ANC countdown puts anti-nuclear groups on high alert, Fin 24, Nov 29 2017 , Matthew le Cordeur, 

WITH the countdown to the African National Congress (ANC) elective conference having started, civil society is on high alert that President Jacob Zuma – and his supportive Energy Minister, David Mahlobo – will sign a deal with the Russians to build a fleet of nuclear power stations. Fin24’s Matthew le Cordeur explains…

THE level of anxiety regarding a possible nuclear deal being struck before the year is up has been evident with the media analysis on Mahlobo’s every utterance, civil societies’ concern regarding an energy indaba next week and Wednesday’s urgent court interdict against a nuclear deal rushing ahead.

The unproven and denied allegation that Zuma has been bribed with billions of dollars by the Russians as part of a “secret nuclear deal” has driven the debate against nuclear energy in recent years. Zuma himself said South Africa is committed to procuring nuclear energy at a “pace and scale South Africa can afford”.

However, if the allegations are true, the ANC elective conference from December 16 to 20 is a major deadline for the “secret deal” to go through. If Cyril Ramaphosa succeeds Zuma as ANC president, the nuclear plans will likely be scrapped because it is seen as fiscal suicide by Ramaphosa’s faction.

If the allegations are true and if Zuma feels threatened by Ramaphosa’s chances of a victory, it would make sense to sign a nuclear procurement deal with Rosatom before then.

The official nuclear procurement programme run by Eskom this year would have likely been signed by now. However, a court ruling in April changed that and the Department of Energy under newly-appointed Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi said government would start from scratch……….

there is still concern that Mahlobo intends pushing through the energy policy document following what some believe may be a sham public participation process next week. If the new energy policy states that large amounts of nuclear energy is required, the government may see this as enough to start the process.

That is why over 20 civil society organisations wrote to Mahlobo on Tuesday asking him to clarify the purpose of the department’s Energy Indaba being held next week on Thursday and Friday in Midrand.

Action group OUTA also wrote to Mahlobo on Wednesday asking for clarity, saying that “the event programme has not yet been circulated and clarity is required on the accessibility of this indaba to the public [both interested and affected parties].”

“According to the ministry, it would appear the planned Energy Indaba constitutes a formal public engagement process on energy matters in general, including on the nuclear energy matter.

“We believe the planned Energy Indaba in the format currently being pursued falls well short of the requirements in law and reason for meaningful engagement on decisions relating to energy mix and procurement,” OUTA told the minister.

The civil society groups that wrote to Mahlobo on Tuesday include WWF, Earthlife Africa, Safcei, Greenpeace Africa and the Centre for Environmental Rights…….

With the alarm sounded, all eyes will remain on Zuma and Mahlobo regarding nuclear in the coming weeks.

Secret deal or not, the opposition groups to nuclear energy are on full alert and will turn to the courts to fight the process to the last drop. https://www.fin24.com/Opinion/zumas-anc-countdown-puts-anti-nuclear-groups-on-high-alert-20171129

December 1, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Africa | Leave a comment

Protest against South African govt’s plan s for nuclear power

Greenpeace activists stage nuclear protest https://www.iol.co.za/pretoria-news/greenpeace-activists-stage-nuclear-protest-12205544, PRETORIA NEWS / 30 NOVEMBER 2017 MATLHATSI DIBAKWANE matlhatsi.dibakwane@iml.co.za

A group of 15 Greenpeace activists have blocked the main entrance of the Department of Enviromental Affairs with nuclear barrels to send a message to the department to stop nuclear as they said it was never safe.

The group sat on the department’s entrance demanding with a huge banner that read “Stop nuclear! Protect our future” that they want the Department of Environmental Affairs to withdraw the environmental authorisation that has been issued for a proposed nuclear power station at Duynefontein.

They did so early in the early hours of the morning by unloading nuclear barrels filled with smoke and staged what could happen in a nuclear disaster.

Melita Steele senior climate and energy campaign manager for Greenpeace Africa said the protest was to send a message to the department that nuclear was dangerous and expensive and should not be under consideration in South Africa.

Steele added that the approval and the construction of a nuclear power station was negligent and that the minister of environmental affairs was putting all South Africans at risk.

“South Africans are clearly saying no to nuclear, and there is no point coming to work if you are going to completely fail to do your job,” she said.

December 1, 2017 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Africa | Leave a comment

Legal action in South Africa’s High Court against government’s rushed nuclear energy deal

Two NGOs launch urgent High Court application against nuclear energy deal https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2017-11-17-two-ngos-launch-urgent-high-court-application-against-nuclear-energy-deal/   17 NOVEMBER 2017   KYLE COWAN On Thursday, two non-governmental organisations (NGOs) launched an urgent court application to halt what they are calling a “rush by government in decision-making on the nuclear energy deal”.Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute said in a statement on Friday that they have approached the High Court to ask for an order to stay the process.

Last week, the same NGOs sent a request to Public Enterprises Minister Lynne Brown and Energy Minister David Mahlobo‚ as well as the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa)‚ asking for a commitment to follow legal processes and allow public consultation on proposed nuclear deals.

The three parties had not responded to the request by Wednesday‚ the statement said.

Earthlife’s Makoma Lekalakala said: “We are part of an international movement against dirty nuclear energy‚ where we have seen governments enter into nuclear deals that are not in the interests of their people. That must not happen in SA.”

According to Earthlife‚ Mahlobo’s recent “utterances in the press” suggested that the finalisation of the integrated resource plan and the nuclear programme was being fast-tracked, “yet government has failed to implement the necessary public participation required by the court judgement that was delivered on 26 April 2017”.

The NGOs will ask the court to declare that:

• No steps‚ including the issuing of requests for proposals or request for information‚ be taken for the procurement of new electricity-generation capacity‚ derived from nuclear power.

• Steps not be taken in the absence of a lawful determination in terms of s34 of the Electricity Regulation Act‚ in concurrence with Nersa‚ following a procedurally fair public participation process.

“This determination would have to specify that new, nuclear energy electricity generation is needed‚ and what percentage of SA’s energy mix it would fulfil.”

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has also indicated that the country may not be able to afford the nuclear programme‚ which is estimated will cost upwards of R1-trillion.

The court will also be asked to direct Mahlobo and Eskom to provide written reports on what steps they have taken, or plan to take, on plans for nuclear power. Should evidence exist that they have taken steps to forge ahead with the nuclear programme‚ the court will be asked to declare Mahlobo and Eskom in contempt of court for violating the April court order.

“We cannot have unaccountable government,” said Liz McDaid of the faith communities’ institute. “We have now seen overwhelming evidence emerging in the public arena that shows how state institutions have been captured and how money that is meant to deliver services to South Africans has gone into the pockets of looters.”

“The nuclear deal‚ purportedly worth more than R1-trillion‚ is yet another one of these deals. SA cannot afford‚ nor does it need, new nuclear power-generation capacity. I think South Africans have had enough.”

November 17, 2017 Posted by | Legal, South Africa | Leave a comment

New report says that South Africa should ditch nuclear plan, to save Eskom from ruin

To save Eskom from ruin, SA should ditch nuclear plan and cut coal power – study, Fin w24 Nov 16 2017 Cape Town – Eskom should cut down on its coal power network – including curtailing work at Kusile – and should not embark on any new nuclear, gas or coal building programmes if it wants to save itself from financial ruin, a new study has found.

This comes as an Eskom report seen by Fin24 and EE Publishers shows that the power utility is projecting a R3.55bn loss by the end of its current financial year. It also shows the power utility’s poor governance has left it teetering on the edge of insolvency, with only R1.2bn of liquidity reserves expected to be in hand at the end of the month.

Amidst Eskom’s governance and financial crisis, President Jacob Zuma has repeatedly said that South Africa is committed to developing new nuclear power stations at a pace and scale it can afford. Critics, who believe it could cost over R1trn and that would threaten the country’s fiscal framework policy, want the nuclear policy scrapped altogether.

Now, the new research report, which was published on Thursday by Meridian Economics, shows that Eskom should decommission its older coal-fired power stations and consider curtailing the Kusile construction programme in order to save costs.

These interventions can be achieved without affecting security of supply, it shows.

The study also shows that South Africa does not need a nuclear, coal or gas power procurement or construction programme. Instead, it should accelerate its transition to cleaner, cheaper, and more sustainable renewable energy when further capacity is required.

“Stagnant demand and Eskom’s large power station construction programme has resulted in a growing surplus of expensive generation capacity,” Meridian Economics managing director Dr Grové Steyn said in a statement on Thursday.

“At the same time, the operating costs of Eskom’s coal-fired power stations have consistently increased. This has forced Eskom to implement the highest tariff increases in recorded history, and has led to a growing solvency and – at the time of writing – a liquidity crisis.

“If the system can meet demand over the same period by using alternative resources such as other existing coal stations, wind and solar – but at a lower cost than the cost of electricity from a particular coal-fired power station – it makes economic sense to decommission that station early, or not to complete it.”

A system analysis undertaken by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research Energy Centre found that new coal and nuclear plants are simply no longer competitive against the falling costs of renewables and associated technologies, the report said.

For the foreseeable future no gas fired power stations are required (peaking gas turbines can run on liquid fuel).

“This means that South Africa does not need a nuclear, coal or gas power procurement or construction programme.”

Eskom shows no commitment to decommission older plants

Despite Eskom’s dire financial circumstances, it nonetheless has not yet committed to decommission any of its older plants, even as they approach the end of their lives and the costs of running the older stations increase, Meridian Economics explained.

“With Eskom’s on-going governance crisis, it appears that government and Eskom are partially paralysed, and could struggle to take the right decisions in the public interest. It is therefore critical that the National Energy Regulator (Nersa) ensures that these issues are investigated and addressed, and that Eskom is only allowed to recover efficient costs in its tariffs,” Meridian Economics said.

“If Eskom’s financial crisis continues to worsen, as we suspect it might, more drastic steps must be considered in light of the systemic risk to the state and the entire economy,” said Steyn.

“If the options of substantial tariff increases and further government bailouts are exhausted, Eskom will have to urgently find other ways to maintain its solvency and avoid a liquidity crisis…….. https://www.fin24.com/Economy/Eskom/to-save-eskom-from-ruin-sa-should-ditch-nuclear-plan-and-cut-coal-power-study-20171116

November 16, 2017 Posted by | business and costs, South Africa | Leave a comment