The Case for Non-nuclear Power Options

by Keith Gottschalk

Intelligent people often hold a range of views on complex issues, especially where more than one criterion is involved, and where some criteria may not be easily quantified.

Newspaper editorials have criticized the Government’s abuse of secrecy – what democracy classifies its future electricity plans as secret? – as it proceeds with its programme to build six to nine extra atomic power reactors totalling 9600 MW of electricity. The reason for secrecy is defensive: these plans cannot stand up to scrutiny for economic rationality.
Continue reading

Nuclear-1 EIA Report (3rd draft) deeply flawed

Below is the formal submission made to the GIBB Consultants who are running the Environmental Impact Assessment on behalf of Eskom.

Its a long read, so those with limited time can use the contents to find areas of specific interest.

While its hard to choose, there are three items of particular concern.

The first is the practically non-existent assessment of the risk of earthquake damage (see point 1), and the potential impact this could have. Continue reading

Eskom and GIBB living in la-la land

Eskom and the Department of Energy have recently cranked up efforts to move forward with the plans for more nuclear energy for South Africa.  In the Environmental Impact Assessment being prepared by GIBB consultants, the background to this includes a graph of the predicted peak electricity demand. Here is the graph they use, on page 2 of the latest combined main report, released in September 2015: Continue reading

Thorium and fairy dust: the future of nuclear?

Nuclear power is currently predominately based on uranium fuel.  This is an issue for two reasons. Uranium reserves are limited, and should nuclear power become widely used, economically extractable reserves would run out within decades.  Secondly, the current 400 odd reactors in the world are producing high level waste at a rate far exceeding the rate at which long term solutions for handling this waste are being planned.  The industry has acknowledged these problems, and the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) sometimes refers to uranium based nuclear power as a ‘bridging technology’.

One alternative put forward is thorium.  There are about four times more known thorium than uranium reserves and a thorium reaction works differently, so the fuel lasts longer. Continue reading

Earthquakes and Nuclear

As South Africa contemplates building nuclear power stations along the coast, consultants from GIBB have been given the job of assessing the potential impacts of doing this.  This includes looking at the risks.

Photograph of crack in road in Ceres caused by earthquake

Damage in Ceres from 1969 quake

One obvious risk is that of an earthquake damaging the nuclear reactor, as happened in 2011 in Fukushima.  To assess this risk, GIBB produced a specialist report in 2011 (i.e. done before Fukushima) titled “Appendix E4: Seismic Risk Assessment”. Continue reading

Proposed nuclear build outside Cape Town – public participation meetings

The government is asking the South African public for their input on the proposed nuclear build 30km outside Cape Town in a series of public meetings. These meetings are always attended by the few pro-nuclear stakeholders and it is important that the public also attend to share their concerns about safety, costs and environmental issues.

When?

Melkbosstrand: 18:00, 12 October 2015
Atlantic Beach Golf club

Kenliworth: 18:00, 13 October 2015
Kenilworth Community Presbyterian Church

Is it really worthwhile attending?

Yes! South Africa has an excellent constitution and powerful laws Continue reading

How to ride the nuclear gravy train

Will South Africa be able to raise the money to purchase a nuclear power reactor? Probably not. The Treasury recently admitted that it has done no costing or affordability study for nuclear power, and the 2015 budget made it clear that no money has been allocated for the next three years.

And every year, prospects get bleaker for the nuclear industry…
In addition, the falling value of the Rand, and the constantly increasing dollar cost of nuclear plants make it less affordable for South Africa with each year that passes. But just because the train will never reach its destination, that doesn’t mean you can’t get aboard and enjoy the gravy! Continue reading