Cape Town - Campaigners are urging a rethink on extending the life of the Western Cape’s Koeberg nuclear power plant, while the period for public comment on the draft regulations on the long-term operation of nuclear installations closes next Tuesday.
Department of Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe published the request which is intended to lead to a nuclear programme delivering new installed capacity of 2.5 gigwatts in June.
Mantashe said: “The plan also provides for the extension of the life of Koeberg, which is due to be decommissioned in 2024 after 40 years in operation.”
Leading the charge against the extension of the plant’s life span is the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute, Safcei.
In a statement, Safcei said: “As South Africa faces another push for nuclear energy when the country is in crisis from the Covid-19 pandemic, faith communities call for no more nuclear energy.
“Nuclear power is not climate resilient, cheap, competitive, quick to build and deliver, safe or able to solve our immediate energy needs.”
Safcei said lessons need to be learnt from the country’s past experience with nuclear energy, including what it claims were 14 years of research and billions of rands “wasted on small nuclear energy systems known as the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR).”
“The level of trust in Eskom is at an all-time low. South Africans are tired of load-shedding and annoyed that tax revenue continues to be diverted from essential services to bailout dysfunctional state owned enterprises. What reassurance do we have that a new state-owned nuclear project will be any different?” asked Safcei.
Last year Eskom’s attempt to see whether there was a market and potential for the previously abandoned Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) PBMR project was dismissed as “unrealistic” by the South African Independent Power Producers’ Association (SAIPPA).
SAIPPA general secretary Dave Long said: “I can’t believe it has any real chance to succeed now. It has been overtaken by technology and nobody is that interested in nuclear any more.”