OPINION

Joemat-Pettersson must provide clarity on R1 trillion nuke deals- Gordon Mackay

DA wants to know more about reported plans for procurement of reactors

Atomic Tina needs to clarfy three suggested nuke deals

The Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) 2015 presently before Cabinet indicates that government plans not one but up to three R1 trillion nuclear deals by 2050 all the while acknowledging that procurement of nuclear can in fact be delayed until at least 2020, if not later.

The DA  therefore calls on Energy Minister Joemat-Petterson to table this IEP as a matter of urgency and allow Parliament to scrutinise this document and address the key issues within this plan. 

According to reports in the Sunday Times this morning the proposed IEP nuclear-generating capacity will be expanded to between 12 and 20 times of South Africa’s current installed nuclear capacity of 1830 MW.

This effectively means that the Department of Energy (DoE) envisions a series of large-scale nuclear deals over the next 20 years, this despite ongoing and significant concerns on affordability by National Treasury and uncertainty as the impact on the cost of electricity for ordinary South Africans- particularly the poor. 

The purpose of the IEP is to provide a roadmap of the future energy landscape for South Africa in order to guide future energy infrastructure investments and policy development by providing a thorough analysis of competing technologies for the provision of sustainable and cost effective electricity. 

Far from being a thorough assessment of competing technologies however, the IEP is nothing more than a slavish confirmation of the inevitability of the nuclear new build program and is the product of political interference by the ANC government into the terrain of energy planning.

The IEP therefore fails to provide an assessment of a potential energy mix which excludes nuclear, this despite the international energy landscape where major nuclear nations such as Germany, France and the US are all reducing their reliance on nuclear in favour of cleaner and cheaper renewables and gas. 

Further, the IEP argues for an energy mix biased towards a combination of large scale nuclear and large scale decentralised renewables; this despite general international consensus that the two technologies are largely incompatible due to the variable nature of renewables electricity generation.

Furthermore, the scope for gas in the IEP has deliberately been limited in order to produce a “nuclear heavy” energy road map. The IEP is way too conservative on the scope of gas within in the energy mix. Internationally, a number of gas producers are coming online and numerous new gas finds are being made across Africa. This will result in an increased availability of natural gas and the subsequent decrease in the price of natural gas. 

Government should have used this IEP to aggressively pursue gas as an alternative energy form, which is far safer, cleaner, cheaper and more job friendly compared to the use of the potentially politically motivated and unaffordable nuclear build programme.

The DA calls on Minister Joemat-Petterson to table this IEP as a matter of urgency and allow Parliament to scrutinise this document and address the key issues within this plan. 

The DA remains fundamentally opposed to costly, secretive nuclear deals which have the real potential to destroy any prospects of future economic growth and job creation and as such will not support Government’s latest and unimpressive solution to the energy crisis in the form of the Integrated Energy Plan. 

Issued by Gordon Mackay, DA Shadow Minister of Energy, 1 November 2015