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.
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‘Secret’ REBID documents revealed

When the Department of Energy called for bids to supply renewable energy to the South African grid, they produced a bid document which described the conditions and information required from bidders.  This was only available to prospective bidders who paid a fee of R15 000, and signed a confidentiality agreement which included the stipulation to “not divulge or distribute any information in respect of this RFP or pass on any copies of this RFP”.

REBID confidentiality clause
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Nuclear ‘renaissance’ stillborn

First published in Business Day, 23 July 2012

The nuclear power industry is deeply troubled, with little cause for optimism. There is growing worldwide public resistance to nuclear power stations, President Obama has terminated government subsidies in the USA for nuclear power, and Germany and Switzerland have committed to shutting down all their reactors. While the renewable energy industry has seen dramatic growth and constantly falling costs, the nuclear industry grapples with spiralling costs, the seemingly intractable waste disposal issue, and the ongoing huge economic and human costs of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

A renaissance?

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Evacuations and after effects of the Fukushima nuclear disaster

It is not unusual for those who favour nuclear power to downplay the effects of nuclear disasters that have happened.  In the article “Nuclear power is a key part of SA’s future”, attributed to the South African Minister of Energy Dipuo Peters, I came across this example: ‘The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission to Fukushima at the end of May 2011 concluded that “to date no confirmed long-term health effects to any person have been reported as a result of radiation exposure from the nuclear accident”‘. Continue reading

South Africa could learn from Germany abandoning nuclear power in favour of renewables

Germany has been in the news recently for announcing that it has scrapped all plans for using nuclear power in the future. The magnitude of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima and the radioactive contamination there resulted in German voters making it very clear that any party supporting nuclear expansion would be in trouble in the polls. For the first time in history, the German Green Party won a regional election.

Goeddenhenrich and Becker discussing PV

Goeddenhenrich and Becker discuss solar PV at the Hout Bay Green Faire

But what about the 26 new coal power stations that Germany is planning to build as a result of abandoning nuclear power? Continue reading

Voice of the Youth – Our Energy Future

“No Nuclear, No – we want clean energy”. Cape Town’s youth are adding their voices to the call for a clean energy future in South Africa.

In 2010 they came together to protest government’s plans to build more nuclear power stations + encourage South Africans to stand up for their rights to a clean, safe future, free of toxic radioactive waste – a future based on sustainable, renewable (truly Ayoba) energy.