Scrap nuclear – or fail the country, Archbishop tells President

Press Release ( - CAPE TOWN, South Africa - Feb 06, 2017 - This is the view of former Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town and Elder Statesman, Njongonkulu Ndungane, ahead of the delivery of the address in Parliament this week.

“We are very quickly and surely sliding towards a future of nuclear energy. I call on all citizens to become fully informed about the insidious process that is unfolding under our noses, and raise their voices in protest against government’s nuclear energy plan,” the Archbishop said.

One of the most fundamental problems with the nuclear energy plan, says Ndungane, is its unaffordability.

“The price tag is estimated at R1 trillion for setting up of the plants. Our current debt stands at R1.89-trillion. When we borrow money to pay for the nuclear deal, our country will owe R3-trillion – an increase of more than 50%! Anyone with the most basic ability to balance a budget can see that increasing one’s debt by more than half is financial suicide,” the Archbishop said.

Ndungane said the nuclear procurement process has been mired in obfuscation for at least the past three years since the then Minister of Energy signed the determination to procure nuclear energy in November 2013.

However, the country was only informed of this in December 2015 – more than two years after the minister gave the go-ahead with his signature.

Archbishop Ndungane quoted South African energy expert Chris Yelland on the costs of the various types of energy: “Yelland has calculated that new wind, solar PV and gas will cost R1.00/km. New coal energy will cost between R1.05 and R1.19/kw. New nuclear energy will cost between R1.30 and R1.52/kw. It’s a no-brainer!”

Ndungane was also critical of the Minister of Energy, Ms Tina Joemat-Pettersson’s, apparent disregard of her own advisers, whose report was made public in December at the IRP public hearings. The minister’s advises said: “A least cost IRP model, free of any artificial constraints and before any policy adjustments, does not include any nuclear power generators. The optimal least cost mix is one of solar PV, wind and flexible power generators,” the advisors said.

He added: “What is the point of appointing a panel of experts if you going to ignore them? The minister’s cavalier attitude simply adds further muck to the already muddied and dirty waters of this nuclear plan.”

The Archbishop added that the decision late last year to give the procurement of the nuclear new build to Eskom was further evidence of the cynicism of the current government.

“As a company with its own board, Eskom requires no mandate and no consultation from the state or the public to carry out its business and the spending of public funds – this for the largest procurement deal that South Africa has seen since the advent of democracy! This cannot be good governance,” he said.

According to the South African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI), the Department of Energy’s base case for nuclear makes a number of nuclear-friendly assumptions and has an almost linear focus on nuclear. SAFCEI adds that there is “absolutely no evidence” that government investigated renewables and no comparable costs were provided for other energy choices.

“Government’s complete neglect of renewables and failure to develop a matching grid ultimately becomes an obstacle for anyone else who may want to pursue alternative energy sources. Other countries have successfully overcome this, with more renewables added to the grid than coal,” according to SAFCEI.

Ndungane adds that the country is already seeing the impact of Eskom’s decision last year to sign no further agreements to purchase renewal energy from independent power producers.

“I am appalled at this glitch in our efforts to promote renewable energy, which has frequently been touted as a shining example of government’s industrialisation programme, not to mention its positive and laudable contribution to the devastating effects of climate change by reducing fossil fuel pollution,” he said.



Note: Archbishop Emeritus Njongonkulu Ndungane is the former Archbishop of Cape Town. He held this office as head of the Anglican Church in South Africa for 11 years from September 1996 to September 2007 when he retired. He is currently the Executive Director of the Historic Schools Restoration Project (an initiative to restore the historic schools of South Africa) and President of African Monitor (an independent continent-wide organisation that monitors the development of grassroots communities).

Source : Archbishop Ndungane

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