Stop Nuclear Action in South Africa

Greenpeace activists wearing t-shirts with the message 'No nuclear – phansi nuclear phansi!' protest in front of the Department of Energy in Pretoria, as a reminder to the government that it needs to adopt renewable energy instead of choosing nuclear. © Shayne Robinson / Greenpeace

Last week, the Mail & Guardian highlighted the potential international battle for the R1 trillion that could be invested in these new nuclear reactors.

This prompted Greenpeace Africa, to once again speak out against the lunacy of such a costly and outdated energy option and the disastrous effect that this nuclear investment will have on the future of South Africa.

Governments around the world are rethinking nuclear energy after the Japan nuclear disaster. The German government has decided to phase out nuclear energy, and a referendum in Italy saw that 95% of Italians voted against the use of nuclear.

In contrast, South Africa plans to open a tender for 9,600 MW of new nuclear energy requiring investment costs up to R 1 trillion. In September 2011, Minister Dipuo Peters announced that she had signed off on a proposal for new nuclear power plants.

Because Minister Peters’ proposal will be presented to the South African Cabinet this week, Greenpeace Africa has also sent an open letter to all Cabinet ministers, urging them to open up the discussion on nuclear as an energy option, and be transparent in their decision-making on energy sources and selection of options.

Greenpeace Africa is also requesting an opportunity to present its concerns on nuclear energy to Cabinet before the planned discussion on the nuclear power plant proposal in Cabinet.

The decision being taken by Cabinet must consider all concerns, before a final decision is made and we are potentially locked into an outdated technology that will deliver no energy before 2024.

The energy choices being made by the government now will fundamentally affect our country’s ability to combat climate change and create a clean, safe and secure energy future for all South Africans.

The Alternative Options

Our Advanced Energy [R]evolution shows that almost half of the country's electricity can be produced from renewable sources by 2030, increasing to 94% by 2050.

And our Clean Energy Jobs report highlights how investing properly in renewable energy would create 150,000 new jobs for South Africa by 2030.

The fact is, R1 trillion would go a long way towards improving the lives of millions of South African people. It is foolish to invest that amount in nuclear power, which delivers too little, too late and at too high a price.

South Africa has the potential to become a renewable energy technology hub for Africa, benefitting the people, the economy and the climate. Engaging in a nuclear battle is a dangerous distraction that threatens the future of all South Africans. Instead, spending R 1 trillion on renewable energy development would make South Africa a true climate leader.