South Africa: When Offered a Nuclear Gift Horse, Always Check the Teeth


Nuclear power always involves geopolitical intrigue. It's not only subject to corporate capture but also sovereign capture.

The new Minister of Minerals and Energy Resources, Gwede Mantashe, has reopened the debate on whether South Africa needs nuclear power. He suggested a new nuclear plant should be commissioned by 2040 to replace Koeberg, which will reach the end of its lifespan by 2047.

The year 2040 is far off and monumental shifts in electricity delivery will occur before then. The promoters of nuclear energy will spin yarns that it's cheap, that it creates many jobs and reignites a nuclear-based industrial paradise. At best, these are public relations exercises. You hear the same claims about oil and gas. It all depends on how you stack up the numbers and what you are willing to believe.

Yes, nuclear will create jobs during construction, but those jobs will rapidly dwindle once that phase is finished.

A hard-nosed measure of all claims from all technology providers must be taken.

We need additional clean power and when South Africa's economy expands, the reserve margins of old coal-fired plants and a sprinkling of renewable energy sources will not be enough to meet demand. Partly, this is because...

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