As countries like Switzerland, Germany and Italy start moving away from nuclear energy, it is becoming increasingly difficult to understand why South Africa wants to invest over R 1 trillion in building a fleet of nuclear power plants.
Developing economies like India are investing heavily in renewable enegy to meet their need for power. In India, electricity from solar is now cheaper than that from diesel generators. This will boost India’s “Solar Mission” to install 20 000 megawatts of solar power by 2022.
Yet in South Africa, we want to generate 20 000 megawatts of nuclear power through 6 nuclear power stations situated around the coastline.
Thyspunt, near Jeffreys Bay has been identified by Eskom as the preferred site for the first of these nuclear reactors, despite material flaws in the Impact Studies that will give community organisations more than enough ammunition to fight the proposed development in court for years to come.
Tourism remains one of the key economic drivers in the wider Jeffreys Bay region, and the international surf community have made their views known about a nuke that will have an impact on the world class surf breaks found in the bay. The Impact Studies actually admit that Seal Point will be affected by the dumping of thousands of tons of sand into the ocean during the construction phase.
No mention is made on how long it will take for the spoil to disperse either.
The stricken nuclear power plant Fukushima is still in a critical state, nearly a year after it melted down and started spewing radiocative waste into the atmosphere, causing a 30 km evacuation zone to be declared.
The plant started heating up again this week, causing fears that even more radiation will be released. The operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant has begun injecting more water into one of the reactors, after the core temperature rose above Japan’s safety limit.
South Africa cannot afford to put the lives of our citizens at potential risk, nor can we impact on our tourism industry which will be the life blood of Jeffreys Bay for decades to come. Neither can we afford the R 1 trillion to construct the nuclear power stations. This deal has the potential to make the arms deal look tame in comparision.
Surely renewable energy is the only viable solution to South Africa’s future energy requirements?