re posted from SOWETAN LIVE
KELVIN KEMM | SA needs nuclear power to secure electricity supply
Solar and wind power not the solution to Eskom’s woes
What did the energy speech of President Cyril Ramaphosa tell us? Well, primarily it tells us that we have a problem that needs attention … and that somehow we have to figure out a solution.
The real issue is that we have a six-month problem and a six-year problem. The six-month problem is how to get to Christmas without more load-shedding. Load-shedding upsets dinner time, which is visible to everyone, but it also affects factory production and business operations, which we only experience later as higher prices and disrupted services.
The six-year problem is not so immediately evident, but is nevertheless frightening. This relates to longer term industrial growth.
SA has no option but to double its electricity generation fast. We need reliable baseload power, which runs all day and all night. Solar power does not run at night, and wind power only runs when the wind blows.
For the six-month problem, Eskom has no option but to improve the reliability of the coal power stations. That means fixing the maintenance problems and the operational efficiency of power station staff.
That means starting right now with the construction of additional nuclear and coal-fired electricity production. We need domestic energy security. We need to start planning for a new large coal power station, but that planning still has to start. In contrast, with nuclear power the planning and all the preparation is already complete. In 2008 we were ready to start building a large new nuclear power station immediately.
The tender results were in, they had been analysed and the announcement of the result was hours away when it was all stopped. Two sites were ready: one at Thyspunt near Jeffreys Bay in the Eastern Cape, and one next to Koeberg nuclear power station in the Western Cape.
We could start building at the Thyspunt site immediately. There is about a year’s worth of site preparation work that can be done without having selected any foreign nuclear partner. The site preparation alone is valued at about R20bn or more. That would bring instant job creation to the Eastern Cape.
There’s also another six-year nuclear solution too, that is to build small modular nuclear reactors as well. Large nuclear needs to be by the sea because it needs seawater cooling. But more than 25 years ago SA energy planners saw the future, and said that by 2020 we would need small nuclear plants inland by the gold mining areas and the industrial centres.
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