SA Needs Better Energy Management, Not Nuclear Power – Expert


Following state government’s move to build nuclear power plants in the country, energy expert, Chris Yelland said SA needs no nuclear plants but a better energy management.

The government through Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa has made clear its intention to establish a nuclear power that would help stabilize electricity supply in the country among other thing.

This decision by the government followed Eskom boss Brian Molefe’s demand for nuclear power plants in the country which he says would serve the country for over 60 years.

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Speaking on this, Energy minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson announced that request for proposals to build the nuclear power plants to add 9600MW to the national grid would move forward on 30 September 2016.

But Yelland reacts to this move by saying that the entire nuclear build is a mistake, and based off old data.

He said the South African government is working off data from 2010, when the country was in dire energy straits which subsequently led to a ‘scatter-shot’ approach to sourcing energy, with a multitude of projects being developed to meet the growing need for electricity.

According to Yelland, the energy demand picture has changed since 2011, giving a significant drop in demand, lower than the ‘low growth’ projections – reflecting a slowing global market, and a move to lower energy intensity.

Businesstech also reported that the expert said 2015’s power crisis which reintroduced load shedding wasn’t caused by lack of capacity, but poor management and maintenance from Eskom.

“Government cannot forecast correctly for five years, let alone 50. If SA moves to nuclear newbuild, it is committing to one vendor for 9600MW, based on 2010 estimates, which are clearly wrong,” he said.

“SA does not have an energy crisis, it has a management crisis,” he added.

Nuclear Power Plans Will Push SA To R3 trillion In Debt

Though SA deputy president Ramaphosa stated clearly that government has not yet entered into a nuclear deal with any country, Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) warned that building nuclear programme will end up costing the South African economy over R3 trillion in debt.

 In its recently released video, the  organization revealed the economic impact of the deal, saying the country is bound to lose up to R3 trillion if it goes on with the deal.

South Africa’s current debt level is at R1.89 trillion but OUTA said SA would have borrowed R1.2 trillion for the deal.

“R1 trillion will be enough to build 100 million RDP houses. Two houses for every man, woman, and child in the country,” stated the organization.

The repayments on a R1.2 trillion loan come to R100 billion a year. This will put a dent in government’s budget to supply basic needs such as education, healthcare, social welfare and public transport.

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The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research  supports OUTA’s claim by saying it found that nuclear energy is 25% more expensive than new coal and solar power, and 67% more expensive than wind.

Analyst Chris Yelland found that new wind, solar power and gas cost R1 per kW and new coal costs between R1.05 and R1.19 per kW

Ramaphosa however, noted that government is still open to a fair and transparent procurement process, and at a scale and pace that the country can afford.