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“We have the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of so­called nu­clear ma­te­rial that tends some­times to be reused but in­cludes a large stock of more than 80 tons of sep­a­rated plu­to­nium, which is a ma­jor con­cern for pro­lif­er­a­tion and safety, and in­clud­ing de­pleted ura­nium in very large quan­ti­ties and also tens of mil­lions of tons of min­ing residues.”

He con­tends the nu­clear tar­gets con­tained in the draft IRP are “very short-sighted”. ou need a long-ter m vi­sion of a much more de­cen­tralised sys­tem. De­vel­op­ing and emerg­ing coun­tries have the op­por­tu­nity to de­velop, from the start, rel­e­vant and clever in­fra­struc­ture for gen­er­at­ing elec­tric­ity, trans­port­ing elec­tric­ity and con­sum­ing it… rather than try­ing to copy the de­vel­oped coun­tries and go­ing for this kind of nu­clear pres­tige that won’t bring any­thing but prob­lems. There’s no point ar­gu­ing it’s not fea­si­ble. It’s just a mat­ter of po­lit­i­cal will.”

As global lead­ers con­verge in Can­cun for the UN cli­mate sum­mit, which got un­der way this week, Green­peace’s Nkopane Maphiri sees a con­tra­dic­tion be­tween South Africa’s nu­clear am­bi­tions and its lead­er­ship role in in­ter­na­tional cli­mate ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Af­ter the “spec­tac­u­lar fail­ure” of Copen­hagen, con­fi­dence needs to be re­built and South Africa, which has taken a lead in cli­mate ne­go­ti­a­tions un­til now, can play a role in reach­ing a glob­ally bind­ing deal when the next con­fer­ence kicks off in Dur­ban next year.

“South Africa can push for in­creased gains. South Africa is in a po­si­tion to show lead­er­ship… The nu­clear in­dus­try in South Africa is a pub­lic re­la­tions ma­chine. Can we af­ford a dan­ger­ous growth path?”

Jayen­dra Naidoo, the en­ergy spokesman for Busi­ness Lead­er­ship SA, em­braces the IRP 2010 as a “bold doc­u­ment” that “sends sig­nals about the fu­ture plan of where our de­mand re­quire­ments are and how we are go­ing to de­liver on those re­quire­ments”.

As global pop­u­la­tions soar, we need to change how we con­sume en­ergy, he says.

“What is sus­tain­able? Is it sus­tain­able to have six bil­lion peo­ple on the planet? Is it sus­tain­able to ex­pect to eat meat ev­ery day, for thou­sands of peo­ple to travel to con­fer­ences to save the world, to go on an­nual hol­i­days? We need in­cen­tives, rules, a change in con­sumer be­hav­iour and an in­crease in so­cial aware­ness,” says Naidoo

Nu­clear, it seems, is not a dirty word in busi­ness cir­cles.

“Coal is still go­ing to be a big part of our fu­ture. And busi­ness and in­dus­try are sup­port­ing nu­clear in gen­eral. A lot of our com­pa­nies are hooked up to the coal in­dus­try, and there’s some ap­pre­hen­sion about nu­clear, even among coal pro­duc­ers, but nu­clear does pro­vide baseload.

“The thing about it is you switch it on when you need it and switch it off when you don’t. It’s not based on ex­ter­nal fac­tors like weather. So­lar and wind power are in­ter­mit­tent,” Naidoo says, cit­ing the ex­pen­sive tar­iffs that may be in store with re­new­able en­ergy.

But David Chown, of Main­stream Re­new­able Power, says the myths that wind and so­lar power are in­ter­mit­tent and ex­pen­sive must be de­bunked. He main­tains they are no longer ex­per­i­men­tal tech­nolo­gies – and have been suc­cess­fully adopted around the world.

“Why isn’t South Africa im­ple­ment­ing the technology the same way? Wind and so­lar are some of the cheap­est so­lu­tions for elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tion – they are quick to de­ploy and cer­tainly one of the driv­ers of lo­cal eco­nomic cre­ation and ru­ral devel­op­ment. There are wa­ter sav­ings, risk re­duc­tion and re­duced emis­sions. We will have our own fuel source that will never run out.

“The clean-en­ergy fu­ture is the only way we’ve got to go, sim­ply be­cause of the ben­e­fits.

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