Energize Inbox, June 2017


This month we selected four responses to “The science, engineering and law of nuclear energy in South Africa” by Chris Yelland and Joanne Taylor, EE Publishers, which was published on the Energize website on 16 May 2017. 

Our winning letter

Dear Editor

Here is a truth which is seldom factored into the nuclear debate. Nuclear energy clearly has advantages over fossil fuel-based energy options, but its energy source is still dependent on mining for uranium and therefore should be grouped with extractive industries, and subjected to the same sustainability critique. Mining is a wasting industry because it relies on a non-renewable resource. So here is my question for NECSA: Why are the costs to human health and environmental impact of mining not included in the computation of the cost vs. benefit equation of nuclear, just as they must be in all other mining endeavours?

John Clarke

Dear Editor

Thank you for an informative article. I am a member of NIASA and do support the nuclear industry provided the process is driven properly. I also support natural technologies (renewables) and don’t think it should always be about one vs. the other.

My concern relates to a lack of alignment within the control and instrumentation (C&I) industry and see opportunities for different companies to work across the value chain to grow the industry. It seems that we have adopted a wait-and-see attitude and have forgotten that we already have an industry and should be looking at supplier development within the C&I domain.

I know that some courses were offered but the timing thereof was not ideally communicated. Based on my understanding and own limited experience within the industry, it takes a few years to build capacity and the programme should be launched irrespective of delays on build programme in my mind. This can go a long way to creating work and experience. We need to guide non C&I people who drive the process but struggle to be heard.

Petrus Klopper

Dear Editor

To say that the IRP2010 is still valid today, one must have some serious blinkers on. Contrary to its predictions, electricity demand has dropped considerably since then and continues to drop, with the wide scale introduction of solar panels and other forms of self-generation, and energy saving initiatives. Eskom is gradually becoming aware of its massive over-supply problem as Kusile,

Medupi and Ingula come online, and have already announced plans to mothball five power stations.

There remains no requirement for more nuclear power and we should be looking seriously at halting further work at Medupi and mothballing Kusile to prevent unnecessary cost. Dr. Kemm’s brushing off the high court decision to halt Eskom’s procurement process as being due to “minor slip-ups” in spite of our nuclear industry “always doing things precisely right”, is certainly less than reassuring.

Bart Druif

Dear Editor

This is a complicated issue which needs proper government leadership without vested interests. South Africa needs a proper integrated energy plan which shows transition to green energy where possible.

However, we need to assess these renewable energies properly to understand how wind turbines and solar panels are manufactured. Are they really green?

The hype seems to suggest we can get by with only renewable energy, but our base load for industry is high.

The consequences of an error in nuclear are huge so we cannot make a mistake. South Africa’s record for regulation is poor (we can’t even stop people driving through red traffic lights) and industry is only held to account after an incident has occurred. I am concerned with how well nuclear and fracking could be regulated to ensure safety.

Gary Friend


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