Why SA shouldn’t be too quick to drop nuclear from its energy mix – experts

In the Budget on February 21 the South African government is likely to announce the clear way forward for the on again, off again, nuclear deal that the experts say the country needs and the critics say will bankrupt the country.

Former President Jacob Zuma caused uproar, in his time, by announcing the nuclear deal.  The plan is to build at least 9600 MW of nuclear power with a number of stations around the country. Russia is one of the nations that South Africa is looking to for the technology. South Africa is already home to Africa’s only nuclear power plant, the 41-year-old Koeberg near the beach just outside Cape Town, which has an installed capacity of 1800 MW and produced its first electricity in 1984. Cape Town is one of the few cities in the world to be powered entirely by nuclear energy.

In Davos at the World Economic Forum, in January, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba told CNBC Africa that the deal was off the table.

“We have excess electricity and therefore are not under pressure, for the moment, if you look at the excess power we have it is bigger than the biggest power station we have in South Africa we have right now, which is Medupi, which basically means we are supplying ourselves on a sustainable base into the future. When we feel we now need electricity baseload electricity generation that can be supplied by the capacity of a nuclear power station then we will have a discussion at that moment. But at the present moment there are no plans on the table for the foreseeable future,” Malusi said.

Yet the experts argue this is folly. Kelvin Kemm, a nuclear physicist and the chairman of the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation, argues that the country needs to build its power grid for the future.

“Right now South Africa appears to have sufficient electricity, but that is rather false impression.  Projections of some 10 to 15 years ago showed that South Africa should have been using much more electricity now than is actually the case.  The country is artificially using too little now, in the sense that economic growth has been held back, and the electricity shortages of a few years ago prevented planned industrial expansion,” says Kemm.

The cost is also in dispute. Opposition parties say it’ll cost the taxpayer a trillion rand. Kemm says research shows the price tag to be a mere R650 billion.

The new nuclear power plants will be built by South Africa and South Africans, in collaboration with a foreign nuclear reactor supplier.  A model, in which South Africa is a world leader, is the construction and export of a number of well-known foreign motor cars.  They are built by South Africans, to a foreign design, in collaboration with the foreign design owner.

No foreign workers will pour concrete and erect steel structures for the building of a nuclear power complex.  The same goes for most of the other functions in the building of a nuclear power plant,” says Kemm.

Related Content

Why nuclear power for African countries doesn’t make sense

Over the last few years reports have surfaced of a range of African countries planning nuclear power plants.

The state of SA’s Home Affairs

The state of SA’s Home Affairs

February in South Africa – A month of love, and daggers

Khaya Buthelezi | FleishmanHillard There is something deep and profound about the month of February in South Africa. Former President FW De Klerk announced the...

Why SA’s former Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba had to go – Economist Payi

Why SA’s former Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba had to go – Economist Payi

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up for free newsletters and get more CNBC AFRICA delivered to your inbox

More from CNBC Africa

Rebosis rolls out COVID-19 testing stations outside malls

Property Group Rebosis, has partnered with government to roll out testing stations for Covid-19 outside its shopping malls in Pretoria – South Africa’s capital. However, foot traffic into these malls is expected to have dived due to the virus lock-downs prevented non-essential stores from trading. Rebosis is yet to release its interim results. Rebosis CEO Sisa Ngebulana joins CNBC Africa for more.

Distell CEO: What the sale of alcohol under level 3 means for the industry

South Africans can look forward to popping their favourite bottle of bubbly or sipping on a glass of pinotage to warm up from the cold winter. That’s as alcohol sales, that were banned for over two months under the Covid-19 lock-down, will be lifted. Distell CEO Richard Rushton joins CNBC Africa for more.

This Rwandan publisher is creating buzz with new book App

After realising the challenges that come with publishing fellow African writers, home-grown publishing house, Imagine We Rwanda launched their very own mobile app, dubbed, Imagine Books. Fast forward 2 weeks and hundreds of titles have been purchased worldwide and the numbers are only going up. CNBC Africa spoke to the founder, Dominique Alonga for more.

COVID-19: This virtual concert campaign is bringing together African artists for charity

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected livelihoods across the continent and different initiatives have been instituted to support them. One of them is a campaign dubbed “We are one Africa” which aims to sustain various communities and groups through virtual concerts. Project Manager, Andrew Alovi joins CNBC Africa for more.

Partner Content

VIVO CEO is a dynamic leader for this innovative global brand

May 2020 -- Six months ago the vision for vivo in South Africa was just beginning to...

Building Africa’s Biggest Digital Classroom

An enduring lesson learnt throughout our 175-year existence is that, while things rapidly change around us, the things that truly matter don’t!...

Trending Now

How The Medical Device Supply Chain Failed During Covid-19

More than three months into the coronavirus pandemic, health-care workers on the front-lines of the battle against Covid-19 say they still face shortages of personal protective equipment. The personal protective shortage was one of the early flashpoi

Tsogo Sun Hotels FY profits plunge, COVID-19 lock-downs weigh

Hospitality Group Tsogo Sun Hotels reported a 31 per cent plunge in full year headline earnings per share, with Covid-19 resulting in demand from international tourist retracting in the fourth quarter, due to global lock-downs.

Nampak swings into H1 loss, suffers R3bn impairment

Nampak swung to a half year loss of R2.4 billion as revenue plunged and it impaired its Angola and Nigeria assets by R3 billion, which is four times its market value. The also warned that future profits were in South Africa were at risk from the ban on alcohol sales due to Covid-19 lock-downs. Nampak CEO, Erik Smuts joins CNBC Africa for more.

How COVID-19 impacts the health & well-being of children

Research shows that children have a lower rate of contracting the Coronavirus and bringing infections to the household. This should provide comfort to South African parents that are in two minds about sending their kids back to school next week, when physical teaching is set to resume. Epidemiologist, Dr Boshoff Steenekamp joins CNBC Africa for more.
- Advertisement -