SA’s nuclear launch plan may fail again

SABC News 5 November 2012.

ANALYSIS: Steve Thomas, University of Greenwich

South Africa is in the midst of its third attempt in 15 years to launch a nuclear power programme, but there is no sign it has learnt much from the two previous failed attempts. The latest plans foresee six reactors, each of 1600MW (1MW = 1000kW of generating capacity), being built by 2030 with the first entering service in 2022 and the other five following at 18 month intervals.


Like the two previous attempts, this one is based on hopelessly over-optimistic cost estimates for nuclear power. The programme to develop the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) was launched in 1998 when the plan was to build a demonstration plant by 2002, and then have the first commercial units on-line in 2004. By the time the programme was belatedly abandoned in 2010, the time for first commercial deployment had slipped by 25 years and the expected cost of the un-built demonstration plant had increased by a factor of eight…

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