Greenpeace slams government over nuclear

2012-05-29 09:15

Cape Town - Environmental organisation Greenpeace has demanded that the government halts all discussions aimed at expanding nuclear power production in South Africa.

"Greenpeace Africa activists blockaded the premises of the IDC where the conference on 'Nuclear power's future for Africa' was taking place," the organisation told News24.

Police forcibly removed the activists from the premises of the Industrial Development Corporation in Sandton.

The government is exploring nuclear power expansion to meet South Africa's expanding demand for electricity and despite policy aimed at boosting renewable energy, officials from Eskom have said that nuclear and coal power plants provided base load critical to energy demand in the country.

That argument has come under from environmentalists.

"If you have a combination and a proper mix of energy with solar and wind, you don't have to get stuck on having a large base load," Ferrial Adam anti nuclear campaigner for Greenpeace Africa told News24.


"There's a push by the nuclear industry to enter the South. There aren't even that many new entrants in the market, so when they talk about this nuclear renaissance, it's bullshit," Muna Lakhani, Cape Town branch co-ordinator for Earthlife Africa said recently.

He also rejected the base load argument, saying that South Africa's energy crisis was a fabrication as domestic users only accounted for less than a fifth of the country's consumption.

In SA, domestic users account for around 17% of consumption, while industry takes up 37.7% and mining 15%, according to the government gazette on electricity pricing policy of 2008.

Greenpeace has been on the offensive against the expansion of nuclear power production as well as the continued build programme of the Kusile coal-fired power plant.

"Minister [Dipuo] Peters' support to expand nuclear power in Africa is extremely irresponsible given the socio-economic challenges prevalent on the continent," said Adam.

Germany recently reached a renewable energy milestone when it was announced that solar power plants in that country produced a world record 22 gigawatts (GW) of electricity per hour - equal to 20 nuclear power stations at full capacity.

Germany has been mothballing nuclear power stations following the Fukushima Daiichi plant disaster in Japan.


"Nuclear energy is expensive and prone to construction delays. In a developed country like Finland, the delays have resulted in costs increasing by almost 100%, from €3.2bn to €6bn. France, a country that is one of the strongest proponents of nuclear energy, has had to delay the construction of its reactor being built in Flamanville," Greenpeace said.

Greenpeace argues that SA should accelerate the push toward renewable energy and delegates at the Wind Power Africa Conference & Renewable Energy Exhibition in Cape Town have made calls for wind energy investment.

"We don't really have a choice because we need, desperately, in this country new generation and we need it quickly. Wind is the only one you can put a lot of megawatts down in a very short time," said Hermann Oelsner, president of Africa Wind Energy Association.

Greenpeace asked the government to aim for a more ambitious target than the current one of 42% renewable energy by 2030.

"By 2030, 50% of South Africa's electricity should come from renewables - not only would this help in averting catastrophic climate change, but it could also create 150 000 direct jobs over the next 20 years," said Adam.

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  • SynJyn - 2012-05-29 09:37

    Green energy needs large development investments, that is however of no interest to SA decision makers. The green energy lobby has nothing to give except a future for generations to come, the nuclear lobby has millions available for hand outs now.

  • Vaughan - 2012-05-29 09:50

    So they would prefer South Africa to use coal fired power stations which is the lead cause of global warming?

      robbie.crouch - 2012-05-29 11:00

      and a radiation hazard as well... little known fact about coal.

      John - 2012-05-29 15:54

      And what would you suggest we do with all our coal? Sure lets get rid of all coal power stations. Never mind that we have enough coal reserves to keep the fires burning for 100's of years. Never mind that millions of rands will be lost from coal exports and millions more will lose their jobs It's very easy to call for the end of something when you can't see the full repercussions. Truth is, directly or indirectly it would affect you if we had to shut down coal power stations

  • Bones - 2012-05-29 10:07

    These numbnuts are once again making idiots of themselves. Do they not read "STATISTICS" regarding nuclear power generation? The FACT is that it is the cleanest and cheapest method of generating electricity. Do you think for one moment that all the major countries (USA, UK, France, Japan, Germany etc etc etc )in the world would have built nuclear generation if the sob stories of Greenpeace and the like were true?

      malcolm.molver - 2012-05-29 10:37

      It is the cleanest? What planet do you live on?! The entire nuclear process, from uranium mining right through to nuclear waste management is filthy. Do some research and see for yourself!

      robbie.crouch - 2012-05-29 11:02

      @Malcolm86 do some research yourself. It is the cleanest when you take in account all the processes involved.

      grant.hide - 2012-05-29 12:32

      The states has like 50 stations they are closing down, have been running 50 + years. It's now old and dangerous and we have had major break throughs in the green department. So wake up and smeel the soot we breathing in, it can only get worse with negligent attitudes.

      John - 2012-05-29 15:49

      @Malcom: you should also do some research yourself. Where do you think the materials used in solar panels and wind turbines come from? They not magically conjured up: iron, steel, niobium and rare earths are still required for the construction of so called "clean energy" systems. Simple truth is, there is no such thing as zero-impact power generation

  • Stirrer - 2012-05-29 10:35

    Solar and wind energy can only be supplementary, it can never replace base load. Effective base load can come from one of three sources: (a) fossil fuel, which we are trying to move away from, (b) hydro, which is not viable in SA, which leaves (c) nuclear, which happens to be clean and safer than most other sources. The bunny huggers should get their facts straight.

      grant.hide - 2012-05-29 12:34

      Not viable? say what? All we need is one mountain, hollow it out, full it with water during the day with axxess wind or sun energy and turbine it out in the night. Base load sorted. 22Gigawats in Germany.

  • Johan - 2012-05-29 11:16

    I would like to see RSA pushing for more solar and wind energy. From what I understand nuclear is safe if maintained properly and the waste disposed off propery according to the regulations, and I believe lesson can be learned from past mistakes like the Japan natrual disaster. It would be nice to gradually move away from the coal plants to a good mix of nuclear, wind and solar energy.

  • Tinus - 2012-05-29 11:32

    Nuclear power is the future, make peace with it beardy!!

  • Kevin - 2012-05-29 12:03

    Greenpeace does not want nuclear or fossil fuel power not even green power as it infringes the rights of the insects and plants - what do they want - each one of them use the very power that they protest about ...!!

      Andrew - 2012-05-29 20:14

      most of them drive big 4WD vehicles and fly all over the globe to preach their self righteous hypocracy!!

  • Mandy Casey - 2012-05-29 16:33

    Can you imagine building a whole bunch of nuclear power plants and then letting the geniuses run and maintain them. Just look at the state of hospitals, water affairs ... I'm sure we'll handle it much better than Japan ever could.

  • Kuveshan - 2012-05-29 17:18

    With the power that our country demands, solar/wind operated devices will not make the cut....Nuclear energy is one of the cleanest methods around of generating electricity, not to mention it does so in massive quantities.

  • nkululeko.j.duma - 2012-05-29 19:54

    So I see the world powers don't think that SA will one day produce nuclear weapons behind their backs. Do you think SA will ever consider producing nuclear weapons?

  • Andrew - 2012-05-29 20:12

    Love this crap - the German's close down their nukes and import all their power from France - who generate it all using nukes. Let's see - world's biggest earthquake, and add on the biggest ever recorded Tsunami and despite all the sensationalism, the reactors are all safely shut down and radiation levels returning to normal levels in Fukishima. Nuclear energy is safe and clean - it's the best solution we have to AGW. Greenpeace needs to be marginalised - they have lost the plot!

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