Nuclear power still the answer
It is important to separate issues of corruption from technical and economic issues of nuclear power. The ANC government under President Zuma has been accused of corruption and might like to do a questionable nuclear deal with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, who also stands accused of being corrupt. But nuclear power is our best source of electricity now and in future.
Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba’s mournful medium-term budget illustrated the wretched state of our economy.
Feeble economic growth, catastrophic unemployment and investor fl ight bring a mood of pessimism. Our economic misery has been caused by disastrous government policies, endemic corruption and the fact that we ran out of electricity in 2007, which caused de-industrialisation.
Unfortunately, nuclear is now automatically linked to corruption, sometimes with good reason, sometimes not.
I believe the awarding of the replacement steam generators at Koeberg was corrupt. But I think that the idea that Zuma will force through a corrupt nuclear procurement deal with Putin is ludicrous.
He cannot do so. The High Court judgment this year rejected the preliminaries to nuclear procurement on grounds of incorrect procedures. To push crooked procurement through is impossible.
The notion that the Guptas want the nuclear deal so that they can make a lot of money from their uranium mines is also ridiculous.
Uranium is plentiful around the world and its prices are low. Our nuclear stations can get finished nuclear fuel cheaply from a number of competing international suppliers. They would be mad to buy all their uranium from the Guptas’ not-very-good mine.
At the moment, Eskom has a surplus of electricity capacity. If our economy continues to fail, it will last a long time.
But for good economic growth, for increased industry and manufacturing, for full-scale beneficiation, we shall need large amounts of extra electricity and the surplus will soon run out.
Nuclear is the best source. Far from being unaffordable, it is the most affordable source. It is the least costly option. An incremental nuclear build is completely economic.
Solar and wind, by contrast, really are unaffordable, and so unreliable as to be useless.