Thursday, March 04, 2010

Is nuclear power really a solution?

Africa must go nuclear. The cost of nuclear is about the same per kilowatt hour as is coal over the life of a plant, probably slightly cheaper now.

France is 80% nuclear, and has the best supply and least expensive electricity in Western Europe.

When we cycled there, villagers were extraordinarily proud of their plants, making them almost tourist attractions.

There seem to be three major bidders for South Africa's fleet:

Westinghouse, Areva and the guys that built Koeberg.

SHOOT: It's one of the better options with the proviso that you can maintain security, and in South Africa that's not certain. If SA had to go the Zimbabwe route, a nuclear power station would be a disaster, a target for sabotage.
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That goes for South Africa, Africa and the planet.

At the Energy Indaba this week in Sandton Convention Centre there was much talk of wind, solar, biomass, wave and other energy makers, but frankly they all operate at the fringe of supply - less than 5%.

Nuclear is major stuff. And in expertise SA is one of the top nuclear countries, has been for about 50 years.

We made the bomb, scrapped it, but still make so many medical isotopes that every two minutes somewhere on the planet a patient gets South African nuclear help.

We need a fleet (that's what the collective noun is) of reactors, about ten to 15 of them.

A quick comparison: Koeberg would use six train truckloads of fuel a day if it was coal-fired. Instead it uses only one furniture truck of nuclear fuel a year. What a difference!

Our coal is in Mpumalanga, yet Cape Town needs electricity so we send it all the way down there, losing a lot in transmission. The equivalent in Europe would be to send it from Berlin to London.

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