South Africa: Nuclear Power’s Threat to Democracy

EarthLife Africa | 30 April 2013 | AllAfrica.com

OPINION

Without much fanfare, the Department of Energy has propelled the country towards a democratic crisis. In a briefing to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Energy (April 16, 2013), the Department of Energy stated that it would not be reviewing the country’s electricity plan (Integrated Resources Plan 2010) this year, and that the planned six new nuclear reactors were not up for review at any point in the future. The Department’s Director General, Nelisiwe Magubane, indicated that this was the view of Cabinet.

The possible purchase of 9600 MW of new nuclear power represents the most expensive procurement in the history of South Africa and will have long-term impact on the level of South Africa’s national debt.

The day after the Department’s briefing to Parliament, the National Planning Commission released a study, conducted by the University of Cape Town’s Energy Research Centre, into South Africa’s energy future. The headline messages from this study (Towards a New Energy Future, available at http://www.erc.uct.ac.za/) are that there is no need to invest in nuclear power for at least the next 15 to 25 years, that nuclear power is not cost-effective based on the latest cost data, and that South Africa can meet its commitments on carbon emissions without nuclear power. One of the reasons why nuclear is not required now is that the demand for electricity has grown slower than what the Department of Energy predicted back in 2010…

(The full NPC modelling report is also available here).

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