Nu­clear power still the an­swer

The Citizen (KZN) - - LETTERS - An­drew Kenny

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.

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