The energy choices being made today fundamentally affect our country’s ability to create a clean, safe, and secure energy future for all South Africans.
New investments in nuclear are a dead-end, and Greenpeace Africa is campaigning for the South African government to reconsider investments in nuclear energy, and for Koeberg to be shut down at the end of its lifetime.
Six new nuclear reactors are planned for the country, despite the fact that more than one government document (including the National Development Plan) questions the cost of nuclear, stating that new nuclear investments should not be made in the near future.
Nonetheless, the South African government is moving ahead, and has signed a number of classified ‘nuclear co-operation’ agreements. One of those includes a rather dodgy agreement with Russia, implying that Russia was the successful bidder for supplying the reactors, despite no proper procurement or bidding process being followed.
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The big nuclear problems:
- Nuclear is simply too expensive. It is estimated that the proposed nuclear build programme in South Africa may cost as much as R1 trillion, and new nuclear investments have the potential to push up the price of electricity significantly -- even more than the current tariff increases that Eskom has been granted.
- There is a serious lack of transparency in the whole process. This is particularly problematic as the proposed nuclear programme would be the biggest single investment in energy infrastructure this country has seen in recent history.
- Nuclear reactors take more than a decade to build and massive cost overruns and delays are the norm for new nuclear projects. South Africa needs new capacity now, at a price the public can afford -- not in ten years time at runaway cost.
- Nuclear reactors are inherently unsafe. The Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan in March 2011 again exposed the fundamental flaws of nuclear reactors, and highlighted the serious institutional failures in the oversight of nuclear safety.
- Even after 60 years of nuclear power, there is no solution for safe, long-term storage of radioactive waste anywhere in the world. The most hazardous waste needs to be stored securely for hundreds of thousands of years before it can be considered safe.
The reality is that governments around the world are rethinking nuclear energy because nuclear power has consistently delivered too little, too late and at too high a price.
The South African government should be providing platforms for honest and open debate, rather than pushing ahead with the risky nuclear programme.
South Africans have a right to know what the current safety assessments of the proposed nuclear programme are, along with why nuclear power has been favoured over renewable energy investments. To date these assessments have not been made public and too many questions are left unanswered.
A nuclear plant takes more than a decade to build, is dependent on a non-renewable resource, creates dangerous radioactive waste and is very costly. In contrast, renewable energy capacity can be built much faster, and without any of the safety, environmental, and financial risks associated with nuclear power.
Greenpeace strongly believes that nuclear energy is not the answer to our current energy crisis. It will always deliver too little, too late and at far too high a price. Greenpeace Africa is campaigning for new investments to go into renewable energy, instead of nuclear power.