HomeIndustry SectorsGenerationSANBP calls for collaboration between nuclear and renewables

SANBP calls for collaboration between nuclear and renewables

The South African New Nuclear Build Platform (SANBP) congratulated Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) for taking the bold step towards a future of a clean, reliable and sustainable energy mix, which will reinvigorate the devastated construction industry and bring economic growth and jobs.

On 26 August, Nersa announced that it would support the Minister’s request for a section 34 Determination (authorisation) under the Electricity Regulation Act and published government policy, to include 2,500MW of nuclear power in the country’s energy mix.

This happened in the week in which the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) held public hearings for Thyspunt in the Eastern Cape as a suitable site for South Africa’s second nuclear plant. 

According to SANBP, economic growth is directly correlated to a reliable, sustainable, low-cost energy supply and to meet global carbon emission standards, we need to move to clean energy sources. South Africa will decommission coal fired plants, providing 24,500MW of electricity, over the next  20  years, states SANBP, adding: “We need the right energy mix to move the country forward and this includes nuclear in line with global trends.”

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The proposed Thyspunt site

The Thyspunt site between Cape St Francis and Oyster Bay in the Eastern Cape has been earmarked for South Africa’s nuclear energy expansion programme since 1985.

Eskom has accumulated decades of environmental, seismic, and marine data for the site and many public consultation processes and Environmental Impact Assessments have found no fatal flaws for the development of a nuclear power plant, states SANBP. “The Eastern Cape will benefit from jobs, development and economic activity in an area where unemployment is one of the highest in the country.”

In his oral presentation, SANBP spokesperson Des Muller said: “Nuclear Energy at Thyspunt will stabilise renewable energy and balance the grid. Baseload electricity from the Eastern Cape will secure regional energy supplies and reduce significant transmission losses.” 

Muller explained that Thyspunt is surrounded by highly skilled motor manufacturing industries which would benefit from reliable clean energy and well-positioned to be part of the nuclear manufacturing supply chain. “Nuclear energy delivers exactly what the Eastern Cape needs right now. The regional Industrial Development Zones and major industries can realise their full potential and retain their global export markets with reliable, clean and affordable energy.

“During the build, 25,000 highly paid skilled workers and 1,000 expats and their families will have a long-term positive impact on the local economy. We cannot afford to lose this opportunity now, the need is even greater than in 2017 when the nuclear programme was halted due to a legal technicality in the court”.

Muller continued: “So-called ‘green’ energy is a misnomer in that the planet needs CO₂ to sustain plant life. Although wind, solar and nuclear energy do not emit CO₂ while delivering power, the low values of CO₂ assigned to these technologies per kWh produced, comes mostly from the materials that go into the construction of these power plants, with wind at 15g/kWh, solar at 45g/kWh and nuclear at 12g/kWh. Below 50g/kWh makes them ‘green’.

“The CO₂ produced in the use of fossil fuels or batteries to stabilise the intermittency of renewables, needs to be added to their account and tariff. All these ‘green’ technologies produce toxic waste over their respective lifetimes. Nuclear energy’s waste management and decommissioning are included in its tariff. I’m not sure the same applies to renewables for the heaps of toxic waste they are starting to produce after two decades.   

“But – it is not about nuclear versus renewables but nuclear and renewables in an optimum energy source mix for South Africa. We advocate using all energy sources available to SA including coal, where it makes sense. Government and Minister Mantashe recognise this and are delivering the right strategy for our country,” said Muller.  

SANBP explains why nuclear energy is affordable

  • NPP offers include financing at 3% and after 20 years, we have an asset supplying very cheap, clean and reliable electricity. 
  • Planning, construction, operation and maintenance, and decommissioning – is spread over 100 years – Generations of jobs.
  • Over 350,000 job-years* during the build. Over 2 million job-years for operation and maintenance.
  • For the first 18 years, nuclear delivers clean baseload at a competitive tariff with no dependency on fossil power backup.
  • Once the capital expenditure (CAPEX) is paid in 18 years, the levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) drops by 60% for next 60 years.
  • Safety is the nuclear industry’s priority under the National Nuclear Regulator’s management and subject to the highest stringent global nuclear standards.

South Africa cannot afford to turn its back on the energy source that is powering the rest of the developing world.

*Number of jobs multiplied by time; on average 35,000 jobs over 10 years

Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl
As the Editor of ESI Africa, my passion is on sustainability and placing African countries on the international stage. I take a keen interest in the trends shaping the power & water utility market along with the projects and local innovations making headline news. Watch my short weekly video on our YouTube channel ESIAfricaTV and speak with me on what has your attention.