The future of nuclear energy in SA

Some people have come out in opposition to nuclear energy solely on ideological premises.

Eskom's Koeberg Nuclear Power Station. Picture: Eskom.

JOHANNESBURG - Managing Director of EE Publishers Chris Yelland says the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) looks at different supply options of energy to meet electricity demands in the next 20 years.

Speaking to the Redi Thlabi Show, Yelland said that along with nuclear, the IRP has also taken into consideration hydro, gas and renewable energy.

He said that the current controversy over deals being made for nuclear energy were due to the lack of transparency in which the deals were being made while he raised the issue of people opposing nuclear energy on ideological premises.

Melita Steele, the senior climate and energy manager at Greenpeace has said that nuclear energy is nothing more than a dead end and likely to double electricity prices, while putting many South Africans at risk.

"There are no long term solutions to nuclear waste and is not in the best interests of any of us. The fact that we're looking at the kinds of deals from Russia with promises of financial support and to build infrastructure but those promises haven't been tested, designs from Russia haven't been looked at by an independent regulatory body."

She said that Greenpeace believes that nuclear energy at the moment is one of the worst choices in South Africa.

Yelland disagreed with Steele's views, stating that nuclear energy was not by definition extremely expensive electricity and cited the example that Koeberg power station was the jewel in Eskom's crown, as it generated the lowest cost electricity of all the power stations in Eskom's fleet currently and was likely to do so for many years to come.

"So the suggestion that nuclear energy is expensive by definition is simply not true. I'm not saying renewable energy doesn't have a place in the mix, it has a very important place in the mix and fact in terms of the, it is by far the biggest part of the new generation capacity coming on stream for the next 20 years. Certainly much bigger than the plans for nuclear."

He said that the point of the matter was that all the options had advantages and disadvantages, but reiterated that they all had their place in the mix.

"They are all part of the solution but not one of them is the full solution."