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Fin24 inbox overflows with nuclear feedback

Dec 30 2015 10:47

Bishop Geoff Davies says a prayer during the vigil against nuclear energy at parliament in Cape Town on Wednesday. (Photo: Matthew le Cordeur)

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Cape Town - Fin24 has received a mixed response to South Africa's nuclear procurement programme plans, with some supporting the move and others dead set against it. Many were also responding to nuclear adviser Dr Kelvin Kemm's opinion stories on Fin24.

READ: Fin24 readers speak out against nuclear energy
READ:
Nuclear adviser responds to his critics
READ: Opinion piece by Dr Kelvin Kemm

Fin24 user Henry Stewart writes:

Nuclear is the way to go. I fully support Dr Kelvin Kemm’s points on nuclear power generation. One must not forget the fact that with a public-private partnership, the cost of the investment will be minimal to the taxpayer. If so-called fast fired reactors are used, where the reaction products can be recycled into the system, there should be no worries about contamination at all. These reactors are also much safer than traditional reactors.

Fin24 user Mazolo Dube writes:

The environmental and human health risks associated with the operations and decommissioning of a nuclear power plant are well known and documented. The Fukushima disaster is one recent example, but there are many other nuclear incidences that go unreported. So, l'm not sure if Dr Kelvin Kemm thinks the South African public is ignorant, or naive to be fed with such obvious cheap propaganda.

Fin24 user Tony Robson writes:

Nuclear attracts a lot of emotional comments by people who don't have a clue what they are talking about, so it's nice to see a balanced commentary that covers all the bases in a rational manner (by Dr Kelvin Kemm). From an electricity supply point of view, there is no doubt that nuclear is the way to go.

The question is whether or not the politicians can keep their hands out of the till and stop interfering to further their own agendas so that the engineers and project managers can get on with it unfettered by political considerations. We also need to see a serious improvement in the quality of project management and technical resources applied to the project(s) to ensure that the project comes in on time and on budget, unlike Medupi and Kusile which are both debacles of note.

Fin24 user Isaac Newtonian writes:

The problem is the financing side and the globally competitive side of this issue. If South Africa used about 50% nuclear and 50% renewable energy, then $50bn could have come from private sector investment. Now, if government does it all, it will have to spend about $100bn. That debt is added to our national debt, our credit ratings suffer and our interest rates suffer.

We could have created hundreds of small and medium-sized private companies that supplied renewable energy to the network. We are still totally dependent upon Eskom, which isn't developing a thriving private sector network that can carry most of the future investment demands to help the entire African region. Eskom is politically tied to South Africa. It loses money and will sell electricity at a very high rate to make up for its huge debts.

Meanwhile, China and India plans to go major into renewables. Its factories will produce products at the lowest possible prices in future; products that will compete against our own manufacturing sector. Open up the electricity business sector to private innovation, investment and economic growth. Fast moving SA companies can deliver renewable electricity to the entire Africa. The US has 250 stock market listed energy companies already! We have only Eskom. It's a massive mistake.

Fin24 user Tony Medway writes:

Nuclear is 60-year-old technology. By the time it is implemented in 10 to 15 years, it will have been overtaken by events - a drop in the cost of renewables, rapid advances in energy storage, which will make it viable for Eskom customers to go ex-grid and much lower electricity usage due to the unrealistic economic growth assumptions on which the nuclear plan is based.

In short, we will bankrupt the country to end up with two huge white elephants.

Fin24 user Wally Stowe, who is a retired oil refiner, writes:

People are not facing reality. With global warming and the recent agreement's signed in Paris, we as South Africa cannot continue to build coal-fired power stations. Wind and sun will assist, but would not be enough in year's to come with a growing demand.

We have no option but to go nuclear. A proper designed plant with the latest fail safe systems will be implemented. Training of people locally can be done with the correct level of expertise. When Sasol was built (new technology), it was our local people that started it up and still run it today. Oh and by the way, we have Koeberg nuclear power station with two reactors, which has had a good safety record and the cheapest producing electricity run by South Africans.

Fin24 user Barry van Wyk writes:

I am against nuclear power. Everybody seems to have forgotten Chernobyl, and saying it will not happen again is living in a dream. It has happened and can happen again. Koeberg already has a problem with the storage of spent fuel rods. Adding another power station will double this problem. The cost of disposal will also increase.

I am of the opinion that the long-term costs will far exceed the quoted figures. Rather build a solar panel factory. This will create lasting jobs and will also generate income. The panels can be used to create solar farms to add power to the grid.

Fin24 user Irené Saayman writes:

Thanks Dr Kemm. I appreciate the frank, fact based nature of your piece. For too long the nuclear debate has been dominated by unsubstantiated emotional outbursts. I think it’s well worth noting that in North America, where energy markets are largely unregulated, nuclear power is by far the cheapest form of low-carbon energy generated.

In contrast, wind and solar come at a high cost and are not without environmental impacts (e g visual, noise and chemicals in discarded photovoltaics). Nuclear offers the best solution for a developing country such as ours. When South Korea initiated their nuclear build programmes in the 1970s, they were no more advanced than we are today. Among the drivers of their rapid and successful development was the availability of cheap, reliable nuclear power. An unintended spin-off was the availability of competent engineers and scientists required to sustain their nuclear programmes, which ultimately seeded other industries with the skilled manpower to enable their technological leap forward.

We as South Africa would do well if we could be only half as successful as the Koreans have been in their nuclear build endeavours. Forward with nuclear!

Fin24 user Arthur Meyer writes:

Firstly, nuclear is not a green way of producing energy and would be extremely dangerous to our country under the present government, which has not invested in the training of engineers for the last 20 years. This is very dangerous as the level of the welding of containment structures and vessels needs to be of such a high standard, which has been lost because of the government's stance.

Another point is the amount of money needed over such a long time to maintain the sites where the waste is stored. The present rate that the rand is declining at is not a positive one. The amount of wind and sun that South Africa has is the only way forward. It is not viable to be building coal burning power stations or nuclear in this age where new ways are being introduced and global warming is being touted at the Paris summits.

Fin24 user Albert Jordaan writes:

Dr Kelvin Kemm's story is a well-written article by one of our leading experts in this field. The facts presented will still be disputed by pseudo experts on all the alternatives.

Fin24 user Reg Hunn writes:

Despite the fact that nuclear power has been around for decades, not one kilogram of waste has been disposed of safely. It remains in storage. To close a power station, it needs to be encased in concrete for 100 or more years and even then the cranes used to break up the equipment become sufficiently radioactive that they have to be regarded as waste.

Such a suitable crane would cost around R2bn to start with. Precise disposal costs therefore cannot be assessed at this point in time. The cost of safely storing all the waste over many years with adequate security has not been published, so I fail to see how anyone can quantify the costs involved. If this is the case, how can anyone claim that nuclear power is cheaper than other alternatives?

Fin24 user Matome Makgoba writes:

It is interesting that most nuclear proponents ignore to talk about the financial feasibility of this 9 600 MW nuclear plan. How then do we make levelised cost of electricity comparisons with other technologies? What is more worrying is the corrupt activities of our government. Is the minister of minerals positioned to give uranium mining rights to a certain family like he did with dairy project in the Free State? The nuclear deal attracts corruption similar to the arms deal, Prasa locomotive procurement, etc.

Can South Africa really commit R1.7trn estimated by independent analysts for the benefit of a few politically-connected families, as was the case with the colluding construction of the 2010 Soccer World Cup stadiums? The Medupi power station construction was forecast to cost R30bn, but overruns increased it to R180bn before completion. Can we afford nuclear cost overruns?

The feasibility of South African expansion projects should address sustainability challenges of environment, social and socio-economic challenges. It should not test prototypes of other countries and enrich the already rich few individuals.

Fin24 user Mike Symonds writes:

Would be interested in Dr Kemm’s view on this: Germany has closed down more than half (nine) of its 17 nuclear power plants, electing instead to go onto renewables – currently it gets around 27% of its national power needs via renewables. All nuclear power will be ceased in Germany by 2022, and by 2050 it aims to have 80% of all its power needs supplied by renewables.

Why aren’t we looking at the renewable option? The rest of the world is! The likelihood of corruption in a government project such as this is probably no less than 100%, and SA’s ability to pay for the project with the inevitable overruns is around 0%, meaning we will be owned by another country (Russia or China?). I smell another arms scandal of nuclear proportions.

Fin24 user Byron Andrews from St Francis Bay (near Thyspunt) writes:

With regards to the article by Dr Kelvin Kemm regarding the proposed nuclear procurement, to state that Fukushima wasn't such a disaster, because nobody died there is, irresponsible. The effects of the radiation will be seen for decades to come.

Regarding the cost of nuclear spend in South Africa, given the devaluation of the rand, the high cost of borrowing money, the low rate of economic growth and the fact that only 10% of South Africans pay for electricity, how are we going to pay back the R1trn this could cost?

South Africans need to stop this biggest waste of money in the history of our country and eliminate this massive opportunity for tender fraud on a scale never before seen in our country.

Fin24 user Stefan Deyzel writes:

My only question that I have for any person in our electricity portfolio is how do we not utilise solar power that requires only the sun to shine in order to get electricity? We are rated third on the sunniest place in the world?

ADD YOUR VOICE: Send your views now.

Disclaimer: All articles and letters published on Fin24 have been independently written by members of the Fin24 community. The views of users published on Fin24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent those of Fin24.

Follow Fin24 on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Pinterest. 24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

energy  |  sa nuclear deal
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