There are a few flaws in Mr Kemm’s writing
Kelvin Kemm writes that he is the target of smears, hate mail, insulting comments, and threats (July 13).
That is wrong, and to be censured. But his own previous publications routinely included rhetorical denigration, insults, and worse, to environmental critics.
Even his latest piece caricatures environmentalists as “sociologists and retired bishops and imams who do not use complicated mathematics”.
This ignores environmentalists who include climate scientists, engineers, architects, urban planners, and other professionals.
His latest piece’s main argument is that we should trust experts using “complicated mathematics”. Its main omission is to avoid any mention of imported gas and imported hydropower in the search for the least cost blend of electricity. Both these are significant. The CSIR’s latest mathematical modelling is that 85 percent renewables and 15 percent imported gas to address variability is cost optimal.
The Department of Energy’s (DoE’s) 2014 powerpoint presentation is that Eskom is guaranteed by treaty between 9 640MW and 13 060MW of imported hydropower.
After the DoE came under presidential pressure for nuclear build, it censored this into its memory hole.
The public’s trust in “complicated mathematics” depends on what is put up.
At the DoE’s December 2016 public consultations, members of the public with no mathematics qualifications pointed out that the arguments for nuclear power were premised on a 3 percent annual economic growth rate, when the widely reported figure was 0.7 percent.
Earlier arguments for more nuclear power stations were based on 5 percent economic growth per year every year.
They were also premised on the assumption that each 1 percent of economic increase would cause a 1 percent increase in electricity demand, versus the economic principle that price hikes meant corporates became more efficient and used less electricity.
Further, persons with no mathematics after high school noted that the prices alleged for renewables were out-of-date prices higher than the current ones, while coal electricity prices were understated. The same applied to the outdated forex rate between the rand/dollar exchange rate on which the DoE mathematical calculations were premised.
Statisticians say: garbage in, garbage out.
Kemm’s latest opinion piece writes “we are told that professional engineers at Eskom who have signed professional ethics agreements are actually a bunch of shysters who secretly plot to protect coal and nuclear while trying to sabotage wind and solar power”.
This dodges mentioning the elephant in the room.
Readers (including those with no mathematical qualifications) have been overwhelmed with months of front page headlines about not engineers, but Eskom chief executives, its chief financial officer, and chairperson of the board allegedly breaching their fiduciary and ethical duties.
A stream of Gupta leaks and other headlines reveal that Eskom’s procurement mechanisms have been infiltrated and subverted by the Gupta family conglomerate.
This comes as a bombshell after the Department of Energy announced in December that it had terminated its intention to procure nuclear power stations – so that this could instead by done directly by Eskom’s captured procurement system.
Eskom’s renewable electricity contracts have been so far corruption-free, because they are bid at public auction, going to the lowest price projects.
By contrast, barely one-tenth of nuclear power stations in the world were signed for at public auction to the lowest bidder.
The great majority were signed in government-to-government deals.
The ball is in the court of those advocating additional nuclear power stations to tell us what safeguards they propose to prevent corruption in any future nuclear build. KEITH GOTTSCHALK, DETAINED WITHOUT TRIAL 1985; POLITICAL SCIENTIST, CLAREMONT