Government plays on water crisis to justify nuclear procurement
By Tunicia Phillips
It appears government is playing the water crisis card to now justify its controversial plans to procure nuclear power, albeit with some merit.
I must admit that Energy Minister Tina Joematt Petersen gave a convincing argument when she told the National Assembly during the #SONAdebate yesterday, that the country’s water excessive power generation at coal powered plants will use too much fresh water. She cited Medupi as an example, which according to her will use 17 billion litres of fresh water a year. This, in contrast to the Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant in the Western Cape which uses 20 million litres of SEA water.
“The best nuclear energy plant running in the world happens to be in the Western Cape.
“If we close down Koeberg, 80% of Cape Town will be dark, very very dark,” she told the National Assembly.
“This drought is not going to stop tomorrow; we are going to need fresh water.
“Our future generations will be without water, we will threaten food security, and unfortunately renewable energy will never give us the base load for industrialisation and job creation.”
According to an article published in Business Day last year, if SA sticks to its target of choosing a builder for its purported fleet of stations by March [this year], it can only realistically expect to commission its first plant after 2026.
The Department of Energy’s Integrated Resource Plan 2010 (IRP2010) calls for the government to build nuclear power stations that will supply 9.6MW of energy to the grid.
In a Mail and Guardian article published on November, 15 last year and written by Hartmut Winkler, Professor of Physics, University of Johannesburg it said: “The Fukushima nuclear catastrophe resulted in a worldwide critical re-evaluation of the safety and necessity of nuclear energy. Some new projects were cancelled. Germany went as far as adopting a road map that would lead to the eventual closure of all its nuclear power stations.”
It went on to say: “The nuclear build is a very risky exercise with numerous potential pitfalls. And there are alternatives. The shortfall in the projected nuclear capacity can be covered by a 50% larger than planned renewable energy investment. Wind and solar energy plants have been operationalised on schedule, and solar panel prices continue falling. The intermittence of renewable energy availability is considered manageable. Finally, energy saving strategies have yet to be fully explored.”
Read the full article here: http://mg.co.za/article/2015-11-05-why-south-africa-should-not-build-eight-new-nuclear-power-stations
Not once during the emergence of nuclear talk in the country have I heard one government official cite water as a reason. Despite very merit able arguments regarding the energy mix and the country’s economy, the water thing has never come up (at least according to my limited knowledge as an energy reporter). It would appear that government will use any given opportunity (or crisis) to defend its stance on certain things. Opportunism is sometimes essential, but does this not say something about how they operate, and go about running this country?
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his/her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Kaya FM.