South Africa's debt burden is onerous, to say the least, and yet a new 2,500MW nuclear build programme has been snuck back onto the table while we were all distracted by the Covid-19 pandemic. What's behind this, when the alternatives are far more attractive?
Despite recent plans by the government to reignite the nuclear build programme, framed in their renewed request for information (RFI) by Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe for a 2,500MW new nuclear build programme, it is evident that much research is needed in many fields, from material sciences to safety demonstration, to attain the envisaged goals for safe and economic new or fourth-generation nuclear reactors.
Therefore, the feasibility of new generation nuclear reactors providing energy safely in the near future is slim, even by the minister's own admission, and an inordinate amount of funding will be required to realise full-scale operation of new-build nuclear power stations in SA. Given the parlous state of SA finances and its growing debt burden, the RFI makes one wonder if some of the superpowers are brokering deals behind closed doors again.
Politics aside, and from a technical aspect, nuclear power's contribution to the global energy mix has declined since...