Nuclear still part of energy mix: Peters

2011-05-26 15:44

Cape Town - Energy Minister Dipuo Peters on Thursday reiterated government's commitment to nuclear and renewable energy as part of the integrated resources plan (IRP).

"As I indicated recently, the nuclear transaction needs to be commenced well in time so that we can commission the power by 2023," she told the National Assembly during debate on her budget vote.

The recent events at Fukushima-Daichi Nuclear Power Station in Japan had made it necessary for South Africa to carefully take stock of the implications of these developments on its nuclear power programme, as outlined in the IRP, she said.

It was therefore prudent and responsible that the relevant interventions by other countries in such situations be monitored.

This could include increasing the safety requirements of the nuclear technology, selecting the sites for the power stations in areas that were less susceptible to seismic activity, as well as putting in place dedicated institutional mechanisms for dealing with nuclear safeguards.

"We are not lost to the need for a rigorous awareness building exercise regarding nuclear power and its pros and cons, so that our communities are better informed about not only the risks, but the benefits as well," she said.

The accident at Fukushima had happened at a time that made it possible for South Africa to factor the appropriate lessons into the design of its nuclear power programme, and to take advantage of experiences from other countries.

"We are constantly getting updates from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and other sources regarding the lessons learned from Fukushima.

"We are still convinced that nuclear power is a necessary part of our strategy that seeks to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions through a diversified portfolio, comprising some fossil-based, renewable and energy efficiency technologies."

Turning to renewable energy, Peters said: "We have finally arrived at a point where we are ready to procure the first clean energy projects, indicated under the integrated resource plan."

It was hoped to conclude at least 1000MW of renewable energy transactions by December this year, in time for showcasing as South Africa hosted COP 17 (The 17th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) in Durban.

Apart from the showcasing, the programme was aligned to the New Growth Path and would substantially contribute to job creation.

"Secondly, the procurement of solar photovoltaic (PV), concentrating solar power, biomass and other technologies will take into consideration the legal requirements relating to public sector procurement, in terms of which procurement is required to be open, fair, transparent, cost effective and competitive," she said.

Following the successful Solar Park International Investors Conference held in October last year, the department had committed R18.6m towards the completion of a comprehensive feasibility study by July this year.

"We are very excited that South Africa can begin to seriously explore the possibility of solar technologies, being deployed as part of our broader energy mix, in a way that will also de-carbonise our energy.

"It is our intention to place South Africa in the top quartile of solar power generation, so that we can simultaneously create green jobs by localising the manufacturing, installation, operations and maintenance," she said.

The Solar Water Heating (SWH) programme had to date delivered over 115 000 systems under the fiscal and rebate funding schemes.

This was a significant increase from the zero base started from, when the programme was first announced in 2009, Peters said.

The IRP lays the foundation for the country's energy mix up to 2030.

It provides for a diversified energy mix comprising coal (14%), nuclear (22.6%), open cycle gas turbine (9.2%), closed cycle gas turbine (5.6%), and renewable energy carriers including hydro (6.1%), wind (19.7%), concentrated solar power (2.4%), and PV (19.7%).

  • Sargon - 2011-05-26 15:56

    I think the japs have proven once and for all that nuclear energy is not safe.

      Francois - 2011-05-26 16:30


      Blougroen - 2011-05-26 17:31

      @Francois - probably because they could not safeguard their reactors against an earthquake and a tsunami (both of which were expected during the design stage)- why did you ask ?

      Vundla - 2011-05-26 20:33

      Sargon, may I suggest you find out about thorium? You can do so at energyfromthorium dot com or flibe-energy dot com. If nuclear power is thorium-based (there is lots of it in SA and it does not need to be enriched as does uranium), fear about safety goes away. The Americans developed the technology then discarded it, perhaps because weapons are not a by-product!

  • darkwing - 2011-05-26 17:01

    The japs suffered the worst possible nuclear disaster in 1945. They still went nuclear. Once they recover from the latest disaster they will go that way again, unless alternative resources that are sustainable and sufficient can be found. Either that or kill off millions of your citizens. We all need energy. We are like vampires.

      Blougroen - 2011-05-26 17:39

      Once a lemming -always a lemming . .

      Darryl - 2011-05-26 21:24

      @Blugroen, while the rest of the world went coal and gas harming the environment greatly and giving us the massive issues we have today, Japan did something different. They are a shining example of the intelligent use of technology to mitigate man's impact on the environment. Just imagine if Japan had done what every other nation did and before you say they could have gone renewable go google "Germany plans boom in coal power plants" after shutting down their nuclear plants (One of the biggest proponents of renewables). Governments don't go renewable when they don't go nuclear they just go straight back to coal, gas and oil. If you're interested I can highlight a much better roadmap using nuclear and renewables to build a cleaner, safer and more sustainable future for us all.

      Blougroen - 2011-05-27 00:32

      “I'd put my money on solar energy… I hope we don't have to wait 'til oil and coal run out before we tackle that.” —Thomas Edison, in conversation with Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone, March 1931 'nough said

  • Valis - 2011-05-26 17:11

    Methinks you are completely misinformed Sargon. The earthquake and tsunami have proven how incredibly safe modern nuclear reactors are. Even after being subjected to stresses way beyond design, the containment vessels stayed intact. Number of fatalities - zero. Number of fatalities caused by fossil fuel plants - 200 000 per year. I rest my case.

      Hans - 2011-05-26 19:15

      Uhm, Valis, just today the Japanese admitted that the Fukushima disaster is very much more serious than they have to date acknowledged. In the event, so-called 'greens' are certainly not agitating for coal- or other fossil-fuelled stations, they're just as against those as against nuclear, and for similar reasons - they're both deadly, devastating and outdated technologies. Green are certainly advocating clean and sustainable energy supplies, which are safe and abundant and cost-effective, together with a reduction in the massive over-consumption of our earth's resources by people like you and like me ...

  • fsj - 2011-05-29 21:24

    If you don't want power stations, stop using electricity. Hands up all those who are willing to switch off.

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