Amory Lovins: SA has an immediate crisis in supplying reliable electricity. The government’s curiously oblique solution: eight new nuclear reactors, costing about R1-trillion. The inherent complexity of procurement, financing and construction means no new nuclear power could flow for at least a decade, and then only at prices well above those many customers cannot afford today. The country’s past two flirtations with modern nuclear power have not gone well. Plans for a home-grown “pebble bed” modular reactor were abandoned in 2010 after 12 years and R7bn was wasted. Now rarely mentioned, it found no customers or investors, but its advocates’ influence lives on. In 2008, the government rejected as “unaffordable” bids to build 3.2GW of conventional nuclear reactors. Today, its ambition is three times bigger — 9.6GW — and each gigawatt will cost about three times more because real costs rose while the rand lost half its value. So, the total price tag has increased about nine-fold since 2008, while SA’s per-capita gross domestic product (GDP) has not risen a bit. With the national debt approaching junk-bond status, nuclear “affordability” has hardly improved. Between 2008 and 2013, Eskom provided incentives for customers to save 2.5GW. Those “negawatts” were 91% cheaper than Eskom’s most advanced power plants, let alone the coal they will burn. Far more efficiency is possible. A team of experts from the Rocky Mountain Institute helped engineers redesign a vast mine to use 43% less energy, improve miners’ health, and boost profits, through investments that will pay for themselves in a few years. New nuclear power — with its costs rising, demand shrinking, and renewables winning in the marketplace — lacks a business case for SA, whichever country provides the technology. There’s no rational basis for discriminating against efficiency and renewables, all of which avoid the same fuels and emissions and can provide the same electrical services many times over at a lower cost than nuclear power.
BD Live 13th Jan 2016 read more »