SA nuclear academic Dr Anthonie Cilliers explains why he believes nuclear is far better than renewable energy and how it can help produce desalinated water from sea water.
I read with interest the latest in a string of claims made by the supporters of renewable energy sources – wind and solar power. The latest is that it is possible to supply all South Africa’s power requirements with wind and solar, with some back-up from natural-gas turbines. An entire grid made up of solar, wind and natural-gas? Seems logical, we have lots of sun, the wind seems to be blowing all the time at the beach – common sense? Think again, Einstein famously said that common sense is the collection of prejudice and misconceptions collected by the age of 18.
A couple of years ago, the renewable energy industry was kick-started by international agreements such as the Kyoto protocol. It took a while to take off, but suddenly with Germany willing to foot the bill, wind and solar power was being installed all over the world and costs were coming down with falling commodity prices, and manufacturing being moved to China – an entire industry was born. Money came pouring into research and development and great strides was made. If it was not for the commitment to reduce our carbon footprint, we would easily have stayed with good old reliable coal-fired power plants. It is cheaper and we seem to have abundant supplies of coal.