SAFCEI, 12 October, 2014.
Faith Communities brief legal counsel, seeking information on Russian Nuclear Deals
Faith Communities are gravely concerned at the government’s continued support for nuclear energy despite evidence that South Africa cannot afford it.
At the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI) board meeting held in Durban this week, it was decided to seek legal counsel to investigate the nuclear contracts mentioned in the media over the past few weeks.
Says board member, Ani Tsondru, “We need information. If these nuclear agreements are in the best interests of South Africa, there is no reason for being secret and vague about the details of the agreement which should be made available to the citizens of this country”.
SAFCEI’s legal counsel will request government to provide details of the proposed agreements, in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA).
South Africans are once again facing an increase in electricity prices, on top of steep increases over the past five years. While renewable energy prices are dropping, nuclear energy costs are increasing.
We are blessed with large sunshine reserves and the ability to harvest these to meet most of our energy needs. While other parts of the world with much less sunshine switch to renewable energy, South Africa continues to cling to outdated and expensive technologies. The evidence before us suggests that there is no need for costly nuclear power in South Africa:
Firstly, Renewable Energy capacity can be added quickly. As far as electricity generation goes, the nuclear share of global electricity production has dropped from a 1996 peak of 17.6% to 10.8% in 2013 while Renewables have seen an increase from 18.7% in 2000 to 22.7% in 2012. In 2013, India installed 1000MW of solar PV while Japan added 6900MW.
Secondly, In South Africa, solar photo voltaic (PV) prices in the Government’s renewable energy procurement programme dropped from R2.76 per kWh (REIPPP Bid Window 1), to R0.88 per kWh (REIPPP Bid Window 3) over a two-and-a-half year period, proving home grown ability to deliver renewable energy into the grid. In contrast, coal fired Medupi Power Station is over budget and experiencing major delays.
High initial investment and operating expenses are already making nuclear unattractive today. Nuclear cost estimates have risen from US$1000 to around US $8000 per installed kilowatt, with additional decommissioning costs estimated at US$ 1800 per kilowatt.
Thirdly, nuclear waste must be kept safe for hundreds of thousands of years. It is irresponsible and immoral to force this risk on force future generations. After the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, the Catholic Bishops of Japan issued a statement “It [nuclear energy] has … has the potential to pass huge problems on to future generations. To use it effectively, we need the wisdom to know our limits and exercise the greatest care. In order to avoid tragedy, we must develop safe alternative means of producing energy.” 
Fourthly, The Department of Energy’s current planning processes are not complete and yet South Africa appears to be going ahead to procure nuclear power irrespective of whether we will have a demand or need for such energy in the future.
SAFCEI’s energy and climate change programme coordinator, Liz McDaid, claims that “this is of major concern. South Africa has legislated processes to determine the energy mix for South Africa. These processes include public consultation and yet the public are being kept in the dark about these nuclear deals.”
The public has the right to hold government accountable for its actions that will impact on our ability to meet our energy security needs. According to Ani Tsondru “With such massive public spending projects, increased vigilance is required to prevent abuse of power. In a country with such a high level of inequity, all efforts should be focused on meeting the energy needs of the people in an affordable, safe and environmentally sustainable manner”.
ISSUED BY SAFCEI 12TH OCTOBER 2014
For further information, please contact Liz McDaid
SAFCEI energy and climate change programme coordinator
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 0827315643
SAFCEI seeks legal counsel on nuclear deals 9th october 2014