Nuclear industry news


Let us advance with nuclear power


Once again, we have heard the President of South Africa saying we should advance with the safest, cleanest, most economic and sustainable source of baseload electricity (large scale electricity delivered reliably 24 hours a day, 365 days a year).

This is of course nuclear power. President Zuma in his State of the Nation Address last week spoke in favour of nuclear power with this rather odd sentence:


“Nuclear has the possibility of generating well over 9000 megawatts”


Actually, nuclear has the possibility of generating far more than this, and more reliably and economically than any other source of large scale electricity.


The South African economy is crippled with a desperate shortage of electricity, caused by our failure to build new power stations in the 1990s. Since 2007, Eskom has not been able to meet electricity demand. The shortage has stunted economic growth, prevented SA from beneficiating her minerals (of which she holds the richest reserves on Earth) and stopped any expansion in our manufacturing.


It has also caused the load shedding we are experiencing now.


For baseload electricity, SA has only two options: coal and nuclear. In future these might be joined by imported hydro-electricity from Central Africa and gas from fracking in the Karoo or imports from Mozambique.


But political insecurity plagues the former and the availability and price of the gas the latter.Coal, which now provides 92% of our electricity, is dirty and coal stations are confined to the North East of the country (because that is where the coalfields are and each station requires vast amounts of coal).


Wind for grid electricity is useless, as you can see in every country that has tried it, notably Germany, Denmark and Britain. Solar, even in sunny SA, is hopeless expensive except perhaps with the exception of Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) with storage, which might – might – compete against Eskom’s horrifyingly expensive gas turbines for peak power.


But for baseload electricity, nuclear is by far the best option. The fuel requirement is tiny, and therefore nuclear stations can be sited wherever you want. The fuel is a very small cost in nuclear power. It has a low and stable price (unlike gas), ensuring energy security.


Around the world, the new generation of safe, simple, standardised nuclear power reactors, built in fleets, built on time and on budget, are bringing down the capital costs of nuclear power.


We must go nuclear, now!