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Why South Africa does not need nuclear energy

26 September 2015

South Africa’s renewable energy programme will deliver enough electricity on time and on budget without the risk of nuclear accidents, a protesting environmentalist said this week.

The international surf community joined locals in opposing Thyspunt at a surf contest in Jeffreys Bay.

The international surf community joined locals in opposing Thyspunt at a surf contest in Jeffreys Bay.

David le Page of Fossil Free South Africa was protesting outside Parliament along with peers who were demanding transparency from the government regarding the funding model of its nuclear energy programme.

“We should avoid nuclear energy because it is way more expensive than what we can afford and it’s not necessary given the renewable energy resources that we actually have,” said Le Page.

“Nuclear energy is extremely expensive. We have incredible wind and solar energy resources in South Africa,” he said. “The very ambitious renewable energy programme that we have is already saving us an enormous amount of money that we would otherwise have spent on gas.”

He said baseload power is not a function of a particular type of energy. “It is a function of how you manage your overall electricity grid and particular resources within that grid,” he said.

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“If you combine sufficient wind and solar and solar thermal resources that we have in South Africa, then we don’t need nuclear and we certainly don’t need it at the price that it is coming in at.”

Le Page said nuclear power plants around the world are coming in over budget and over time. “This nuclear programme that’s been proposed for South Africa in secrecy without transparency … is likely to cost R1trn to begin with, but who knows what it will cost us if it is not built on time.”

“Meanwhile, our renewable programme is being built on time and on budget very successfully.”

Fin 24

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