The Public Protector’s report confirms what Greenpeace has repeatedly said: vested interests and corruption in the energy sector are clearly central to the energy choices made in South Africa. It is no coincidence that Brian Molefe is both a key figure in the State of Capture report, and that he and the Eskom board have been running an anti renewable energy campaign, focused instead on pushing for expensive and unnecessary nuclear energy. This undermines the prioritisation of renewable energy, which would enhance South Africa’s energy future, strengthen the economy and deliver affordable, safe, clean electricity to the people of South Africa.
As seen in the CSIR research released on Thursday, the re-optimised energy model presented by the CSIR – free of the artificial constraints and policy adjustments imposed by government – does not include any new nuclear power generation and shows a decline in coal-based electricity production from 2020. The model takes into account the generation costs of all electricity technologies for South Africa and selects according to the least cost technology. Importantly, the CSIR model shows that the optimal least-cost Integrated Resource Plan (IRP)  model is one of increasing solar and wind energy with a decrease in existing coal, nuclear, hydro and natural gas.
Over the past months, many experts have highlighted the need for an updated Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) to guide the energy mix decisions taken by South African, and Greenpeace believes that without this plan we are effectively procuring electricity in the dark. However, media reports  indicate that the IRP currently under consideration by Cabinet imposes artificial limits on how much renewable energy capacity can be built in a year, effectively forcing nuclear energy into the model, when in reality nuclear energy is not required, nor is it cost-effective. Essentially, it seems that the Energy Minister has been advised that nuclear energy is not the most cost-effective option for South Africa’s energy future, and yet is forging ahead with the nuclear procurement programme.
If the costs alone are not enough to make a clear case for renewable energy expansion, the CSIR study further points to the CO2 emissions reductions and water savings that South Africa would experience in this “rational” IRP future scenario. In terms of CO2 emissions, the “rational” IRP future provides a decrease of 60% in CO2 emissions by 2040, and the model reflects water savings of 63%. Both nuclear and coal-fired electricity production are massively water hungry technologies. It is undeniable in our current drought-stricken country how important it is to save water, and clearly how we choose to generate electricity going forward has huge impacts on our water supply.
When taking into account which electricity technology has the potential to create the most jobs for South Africa, the CSIR model of 77GW of wind energy and 43GW of solar energy indicates that 5.13 million jobs would be created. When compared with 122 496 jobs that could be created through the proposed new nuclear build of 9.6GW, it becomes clear that nuclear is an insane choice, with no basis in economics, and pushing ahead with nuclear puts all South Africans at risk .
Greenpeace believes that it is well past time for a rational, defensible, transparent IRP that does not artificially constrain technologies, in a thinly veiled attempt to force nuclear energy into the mix. The time for sanity to prevail is now: energy choices must be made for the good of the country and not to protect individuals or vested interests.
Notes to the Editor:
 ‘Tina Joemat-Pettersson was advised against nuclear energy’, 3 November 2016: http://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2016-11-03-minister-advised-against-nuclear/
Wind – 27.7 jobs per MW installed capacity
Solar – 69.83 jobs per MW installed capacity
Nuclear – 27.7 per MW installed capacity
Lerato Ngakane, Climate and Energy Communication Officer, +27 81 464 9726 / [email protected]
Hellen Dena , Media Officer, +254 70 805 6207 / [email protected]