Nuclear Energy Can Give More Than Double The Electricity Produced On A Reliable And Dispatchable Basis
The recent spate of anti-nuclear media coverage coincides with national energy regulator Nersa’s public consultation process on the procurement of 2 500MW of nuclear energy to rescue our dire energy situation over the long term, while short- to medium-term measures are being considered and implemented. It is logical to assume that the biggest economy in Africa should be powered by a balanced and sustainable energy portfolio that ultimately delivers:
- Access By All To Affordable Electricity,
- Environmental Sustainability,
- Sustainable Employment And, Most Importantly,
- Energy Security, Which Mitigates Loadshedding.
Nuclear energy is the only power-generation technology we have available today that delivers exceptionally well on all of the above objectives. Therefore, it is illogical when knowledgeable and seasoned economists, energy experts, and now politicians, try to squash the value proposition that nuclear energy has for our country in favour of imported and evidently unreliable energy sources. As one of the pioneers of renewable energies and independent power producers in SA, I am disheartened to see that after spending R250-billion on renewables, our economy remains constrained by energy security challenges. Whereas the same investment in nuclear energy would have given us more than double the electricity produced on a reliable and dispatchable basis, and it is “green”. Koeberg is an excellent example of this having generated the cleanest, most reliable and cheapest electricity for the past two decades and will continue doing this for at least another two decades. It is therefore foolish to even try and undermine the value this has provided and continues to provide for our economy, especially for the Western Cape. To ensure that nuclear energy retains its status as the safest power-generation source in the world, it has recently improved its safety and quality standards with the release of third-generation largescale nuclear power plants.
The emergence of small modular reactors promises to improve on these safety standards and shorten the construction lead times. Today’s large-scale nuclear power plants are being consistently built by highly experienced and competent engineering, procurement and construction teams within the budgeted schedule and cost parameters. These are the proven power plants and construction methodologies that South Africa will pursue to reduce these known risks, while cutting out corruption and increasing local content. While renewable energy suppliers claim to provide the cheapest installed costs and tariffs for new power plants, this is taken out of context erroneously by not considering the additional system costs to balance the intermittency in supply. This places the overall renewable/ IPP tariffs at about double Eskom’s selling tariff. SA has a very capable and experienced nuclear industry, which is currently engaged in Koeberg’s life extension in preparation for the new build.
This news was originally published at Sunday World