There are a few flaws in Mr Kemm’s writ­ing

The Star Early Edition - - OPINION & ANALYSIS -

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Fur­ther, per­sons with no math­e­mat­ics af­ter high school noted that the prices al­leged for re­new­ables were out-of-date prices higher than the cur­rent ones, while coal elec­tric­ity prices were un­der­stated.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

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