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…

More …


Delay in Alternative Energy Bidding Will Cost Jobs

SAAEA 12 September 2012.

The Department of Energy has announced a delay in the submission date for the third window of bidding for renewable energy suppliers. Submissions were due next month but have now arbitrarily been delayed to May 2013. One of the biggest disincentives to doing business in South Africa is the lack of electricity availability. The department’s delay now exacerbates matters, ultimately at the expense of small businesses and the consumer…

Motlanthe-led nuclear committee meets

Engineering News 6 August 2012.

The National Nuclear Energy Executive Coordination Committee (NNEECC), which was set up late last year and which is chaired by Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, will have its inaugural meeting on Tuesday, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters confirmed on Monday.

Addressing the US-South Africa Business Summit in Johannesburg, Peters indicated that the NNEECC had been established to oversee any future nuclear procurement process, as well as the build programme.

Speaking at the same gathering earlier, Trade and Industry Minister Dr Rob Daviessuggested that the nuclear procurement process could begin before year-end…

Billions in unpaid rates hindering electricity development

Business Day 26 July 2012.

RATEPAYERS owe municipalities R76bn in rates and taxes, including R12bn in electricity fees, and this was hampering the refurbishment and rollout of electrical infrastructure, says Ongama Mahlawe, acting head of the Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency in the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs…

(Editorial note: Why not cut off all those in arrears who haven’t made the effort to ask for leniency? And I thought the Grid Code entitled Eskom to disconnect anyone, including municipalities, who don’t comply – presumably this could include municipal grids which are not being maintained? What we know for sure is that the grid maintenance problem wont go away by doing nothing.)

Nuclear plans ready by year end – Peters

Business Report 5 June 2012.

The South African government would be ready to make an announcement about the shape of the country’s multibillion-rand nuclear energy programme before the end of this year, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said yesterday…

(Editorial note: The DOE’s language has changed – it is now taken as read that we are going for a nuclear industry in South Africa, previously the Minister would say that the decision has not yet been taken, now it is about “the shape” of the industry. Note also the R300 bn budget for 9600 kW of nuclear power – watch this figure escalate.  The localisation estimates, as in the arms deal ‘offset’ promises should also be watched. Let’s hope that sense will prevail!)

Impact studies for nuclear plants near completion

Business Report 16 April 2012.

THE final environmental impact reports for a nuclear power station with a capacity of 4 000 megawatts would be completed and submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs late this year for environmental authorisation, Minister of Energy Dipuo Peters told Parliament last week.

South Africa is experiencing increasing electricity demand, with growth in excess of 3 percent a year. Based on economic growth projections, the country will require more than 40 000 megawatts of new electricity generating capacity over the next 20 years…

South Africa’s nightmare nuclear bill

Mail and Guardian 23 March 2012.

The six new nuclear reactors envisaged in South Africa’s energy road map are likely to cost between R322-billion and R712-billion to build and finance, but the total could spiral quickly into trillion-rand territory if they are not built to deadline and budget, according to experts…