Zuma Power = Nukes

mqdefaultDAVOS: South Africa’s worsening energy crisis will form the centrepiece of President Jacob Zuma’s State of the Nation address next month, as the government scrambles to respond to unhappiness over power outages and rising electricity prices.

Zuma is likely to announce that the government is pushing ahead with a controversial nuclear energy programme that could cost the country more than R1 trillion. Details would be fleshed out when he spoke to a joint sitting of Parliament early next month, he told Independent Media yesterday.

Zuma was speaking on the sidelines of the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, where he is leading a delegation of South African ministers, heads of parastatals and businessmen.

He said details of the state’s financial backing for its nuclear power plan would be in Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene’s Budget speech later next month.

“We are going to be articulating where we are. The fact of the matter is that we have signed agreements,” he said, in reference to a series of nuclear co-operation memorandums signed with nuclear powers such as Russia, China and France.


“The finance minister… must be able to say, ‘Here is the money for the programmes the president talked about,’” said Zuma.

Reports last year that South Africa had signed a potential deal that could see Russia’s state-owned nuclear company, Rosatom, build reactors in the country drew criticism.

Detractors argued that the move would put massive financial strain on the country and potentially hike power prices.

The ANC’s lekgotla would put final touches to the plans which would feed into the government lekgotla, Zuma said.

The plans would then filter into his annual parliamentary address. “The State of the Nation address is a function of the lekgotlas,” said Zuma.

Areva, EDF, Toshiba’s Westinghouse Electric, China Guangdong Nuclear Power, Rosatom and Korea Electric Power have expressed interest in building South Africa’s new nuclear plants. Zuma confirmed that the government was also considering offers from Japan and South Korea.

Critics often warn about Russia’s track record on safety at its nuclear plants. However, a senior lecturer at the school of mechanical and nuclear engineering at North West University, Dawid Serfontein, said Russia was at the forefront of nuclear technology and had promised to lend South Africa money to fund the programme.

Earthlife Africa project coordinator Christian Taylor said the cost of nuclear electricity would be too expensive and would result in debt.

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All over the world, renewables are beating nuclear

Wind Energy in South Africa - It's possible


David Elliott – 18th December 2014

As flagship nuclear projects run into long delays and huge cost overruns, solar and wind power are falling in price, writes David Elliott. Renewables already supply twice as much power as nuclear. It’s just too bad the nuclear-fixated UK government hasn’t noticed.

Renewables are winning out just about everywhere. They now supply over 19% of global primary energy and 22% of global electricity. Nuclear is at 11% and falling.

With many of the UK’s old nuclear power plants off-line due to faults and prospects for their ultimate replacement looking decidedly shaky, it is good that the renewable energy alternatives are moving ahead rapidly.

In 2013 nuclear supplied around 18% of UK electricity but in the third quarter of 2014, nuclear output fell 16.2% due to outages, while renewable output, which had reached 16.8% of electricity in the second quarter of 2014, was up 26%, over the previous year. Read More

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Eskom Owes South Africa an Apology for Load Shedding

Earthlife Africa Jhb

Johannesburg, 15th of January, 2015- Eskom's State of the Power System press briefing today left much to be desired. Besides issues on financial and environmental sustainability barely being addressed, what was really missing from the briefing was an apology on behalf of the power utility to the South African public. Eskom has failed the people of South Africa to the extent that the public must now carry the burden of continuous load-shedding for the indefinite future. Eskom has effectively infringed on the basic human right of people to electricity, and will cause irreparable damage to the normal functioning of South African society.

“The closest the public came to an apology was Chief Executive Officer Tshediso Matona stating that Eskom was now opting to do the right thing, thereby acknowledging that Eskom has been doing the wrong thing”, states Earthlife Africa Jhb's Energy Policy Officer Dominique Doyle. “In fact, instead of apologising Eskom transferred the blame to the public by threatening higher electricity tariffs and to cut off indebted communities”. 

No mention was made of the decade old preferential pricing agreements to wealthy companies such as BHP Billiton. Instead of taking responsibility for the electricity crisis, Eskom has chosen to hold the South African public and government to ransom with the threat of a national blackout. All of this while the residents of the Vaal have to endure toxic ash for Eskom's malfunctioning Lethabo plant: not one word of apology was made, or even a recognition of the suffering being endured, to Vaal residents.

According to Earthlife Africa Jhb's Senior Programme Manager, Makoma Lekalakala, Eskom continues to pour water into the sinking ship by maintaining the utility as a platform for political gain. Ms. Lekalakala states, “Eskom's explanation for the electricity crisis proves that political forces are aligning to scare the South African public into accepting a new nuclear fleet.”

Eskom mentioned several times that new generation capacity was required in order to increase the reserve margin. The need for new energy infrastructure was supported by boasting about the efficiency of Koeberg nuclear power station and the strong regulatory framework of nuclear power generation. What the utility failed to mention was that Koeberg is in dire need of refurbishment and the tender process for that delayed refurbishment has been mired in allegations of impropriety. The troubled Eskom will also most likely not be able to afford the enormous costs of decommissioning the ageing Koeberg nuclear plant which has been estimated at about R34 billion, compared with the R2.1 billion quoted by the Department of Energy. 

We are also disappointed that Eskom and the Department of Energy continues to refuse to use the crisis as an opportunity to accelerate the renewable energy programme in South Africa--renewable energy projects are coming online faster and, in some cases, cheaper than Eskom's perpetually delayed coal plants--to allow net metering and to expand the solar water heating programme. The success story of the past six years has been the renewable energy sector. Eskom is running away from this success story as fast as it can, spending its time instead on replaying the World Cup and dreaming of risky and costly nuclear plants. 

Earthlife Africa Johannesburg: 
Makoma Lekalakala
Senior Programme Manager
Tel: +27 11 339 3662
Cell: +27 82 682 9177
Email: makoma@earthlife.org.za 
Website: www.earthlife.org.za

Dominique Doyle
Energy Policy Officer
Tel: +27 11 339 3662
Cell: +27 79 331 2028
Email: dominique@earthlife.org.za 
Website: www.earthlife.org.za

Source: http://earthlife.org.za/2015/01/press-release-eskom-owes-south-africa-an-apology/

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Russia to launch a spy satellite for South Africa

Sen—In a midst of the year-end flurry of activity at the Russian space center in Baikonur, Kazakhstan, the most unusual and least visible launch campaign takes place at a desolate Site 2A.

At the height of the Cold War, the low-profile facility housed nuclear warheads for the first Soviet ballistic missile, the R-7. Even though nukes had been gone from Baikonur for decades, Site 2A’s latest role was veiled in secrecy until just a few days ago.

The former nuclear storage is now home for the pre-launch processing of the Kondor-E (Condor) Earth-watching satellite. Known primarily to the seasoned followers of the Russian space program, Kondor does not have a page on Roskosmos’ web site and not until this week did its launch date appear in the official manifest. In the meantime, Kondor’s anticipated liftoff had been causing a storm of controversy half a world away—in South Africa!

russia-to-launch-a-spy-satellite-for-south-africa1418683345It transpires that, in 2006, the South African Ministry of Defense commissioned the Russian company NPO Mashinostroenia (or NPO Mash for short) to build a spy satellite, which could provide all-weather, day-and-night photos of the Earth’s surface with the help of a sophisticated radar.

NPO Mash, currently known primarily for its cruise missiles, has been working on just such a project since the beginning of the 1990s, but neither Russian military nor civilian space agencies were providing enough cash to complete the job. After years of making a global sales pitch, NPO Mash apparently struck a deal with General “Mojo” Motau, the head of the South-African defense intelligence.

Read full article at: http://sen.com/news/russia-to-launch-a-spy-satellite-for-south-africa

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No good tidings in Christmas nuclear announcement

Earthlife Africa Jhb

Johannesburg, 17th of December 2014- As South Africa prepares for Christmas festivities, the government announced today, on Wednesday the 17th of December, that it is ready to launch a nuclear procurement programme. The announcement comes after the majority of South African households and businesses have experienced emergency load shedding as a result of the poor maintenance of Eskom power stations and transmission lines. The load shedding has left communities and civil society at large wondering if the government is capable of safely operating the planned 9600 MW of nuclear power, given the poor state of current energy infrastructure.

earthlife-africaEnergy Policy Officer at Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, Dominique Doyle, states that: “Timing such a huge announcement just many academics and NGOs close for the year is but further evidence that the nuclear procurement programme is not transparent. Section 217 of the South African Constitution requires transparent processes; and slipping nuclear plans out at the end of the year while citizens are still sensitive about the power cuts of the past weeks is not indicative of an open society”.

Today’s nuclear announcement follows the secretive procurement agreements signed by Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson and various nuclear vendor countries over the past few months. By November, the National Department of Energy announced that it has successfully concluded a second nuclear vendor parade workshop with delegations from China, France, South Korea and the United States of America. The first nuclear vendor parade workshop was held with the Russian state owned Rosatom in late October. The workshops resulted in Intergovernmental Framework Agreements with all of the potential nuclear vendor countries, but the contents of these agreements remain a public mystery and have not yet even been presented at parliament. Read More

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