Mr President, please rethink the nuclear idea

By Time of article published Dec 15, 2014

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Dear President Jacob Zuma

WE are deeply concerned that we are being seriously led astray by untruths put forward by those advising our national leadership regarding our energy policies. On Thursday, November 27, SABC3 carried a report of your visit to Pelindaba, South Africa’s nuclear facility. There you stated that South Africa needed nuclear input for medicine (we are not disputing that!) and that South Africa needed 9 600MW of nuclear energy to solve our difficulties. We then had a senior Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa) spokesman perpetuating the myth that the only choice was between coal and nuclear. That is simply not true!

There have been dramatic advances in renewable energy (RE) over the past few years, so much so that it is now the most cost effective. Of even greater importance, turning to RE is essential to combat climate change and restore the health of the planet.

As faith leaders, we have been trying to meet with you for three years, having sent letters from the Western Cape Religious Leaders Forum, KZN Inter Religious Council and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute. We even hand delivered them in Cape Town, but have had no response.

We know it is important to meet with you as you have been wrongly advised to strongly influence South Africa’s energy policy in favour of nuclear energy.

This is potentially disastrous for our country. We hear that blackouts have cost the country R300 billion since 2008. Renewable energy can be up and running within months. “Jasper”, South Africa’s largest solar plant, was completed in 11 months, yet you are pushing for nuclear energy which will take 10 to 20 years to come on line.

We read that your newly appointed Minister of Energy was mandated to pursue nuclear energy. (Mail & Guardian, November 27) The consequence of this seems to have shifted emphasis off our excellent renewable energy programme. It will be a tragedy if the RE programme unravels, for it can create thousands of jobs, save electricity crises and play a part in saving the planet. Renewable energy provides the answer.

Independent Power Producers (IPPs) are already committed to building 3 725MW. Solar and wind farms are already up and running, only needing connecting to Eskom. IPPs plan to produce 17 500MW and can move ahead with that as soon as the government allows it.

For the sake of our beloved country and the well-being of our people and planet, we need you to use your influence as our president to push for renewable energy, and abandon nuclear energy.

Bishop Geoff Davies

VIA E-MAIL

What a pathetic plan

I write regarding your piece reproduced from Bloomberg on December 10.

This angers me intensely. At a time when water resources in southern Africa are stretched to the limit on account of climate change affecting rainfall patterns, these people are planning to set aside huge tracts of land to grow thirsty tobacco plants to produce extremely expensive jet fuel so that rich people can travel around the world.

All this under the cloak of being green and environmental. What nonsense.

Where are all the billions of litres of water going to come from?

Peter Hill

St Lucia

Business suffers most

Clearly we all need to support the call by the Cape Town Chamber of Commerce for a proper investigation. The fact that many South Africans face power cuts is just the tip of the iceberg.

The real disaster is the business community refusing to invest in further business development and manufacturing because they can’t get the electricity.

I deal with foreign clients who wanted to invest in further manufacturing in South Africa who have noted the power outages and have rather chosen to invest elsewhere. Not only does this affect our economy and job creation but it sends an incredibly negative message out to the entire international business community.

Michael Bagraim

Cape Town

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