Category Archives: DoE

Industrialised Nations Must Lead an Exit Strategy for Fossil Fuels

RMI, The Guardian, Raainer Baake, 11 April 2016.

This article was originally published on and is reprinted here with permission.

At the UN climate conference in Paris in December 2015, 195 countries concluded a groundbreaking climate accord. They agreed to limit global warming to well below 2C to avoid extremely dangerous and irreversible climate change.

The international community’s remaining emission “budget” is less than 1,000 gigatonnes of CO2. The Paris agreement is intended to ensure as quickly as possible that the annual global emissions go down, the budget is stretched, and the net emissions of greenhouse gases are reduced to zero over a few decades.

The challenge of limiting the combustion of oil, coal and gas to this budget is enormous in view of the fossil reserves still underground. If we were to use all the known and probable reserves to generate energy, global emissions would amount to around 15,000 gigatonnes of CO2. So limiting global warming to 2C means this: of the 15,000 thousand gigatonnes of CO2, we need to leave at least 14,000 underground…

Read the full, frightening article here.

Big nuclear build makes no climate or economic sense

Business Day, Richard Halsey, 18 April, 2016

THE climate negotiations in Paris set in place national commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This prompted some support for nuclear as a climate-friendly alternative to electricity-generation, due to its low operational emissions.

There are, however, inherent problems with nuclear plants — including high construction costs, radioactive waste, decommissioning requirements, long construction times, and disaster-management plans…

Research done by the Energy Research Centre at UCT found that an over-investment in nuclear will decrease SA’s ability to invest in small-scale and more cost-effective technologies. It is a classic case of putting all our eggs in one basket. And the Energy Research Centre data suggests it is the wrong basket…

So, if there are better options from both a climate change and economic point of view, we must again ask why the government is pushing for this nuclear build. Vested interests and out-of-date planning documents are not justification enough…

Click here for the full article

SA planned binding nuclear deal with Russia

Carol Paton, BDLive, 31 March, 2016.

NEW proof has emerged that SA intended to sign a binding deal with Russia to buy a fleet of nuclear reactors, bypassing public finance management rules along the way.

This is contained in court papers lodged on Wednesday by the Southern African Faith Communities Environmental Initiative and Earthlife Africa in the High Court in Cape Town.

The lobby groups, which are asking the court to declare the inter-governmental agreements on nuclear energy signed in 2014 unlawful, secured the new information through court processes that compelled the government to provide the record of decisions on the deal.

Among the records provided is an explanatory memorandum drafted by the state law adviser in November 2013 on the draft Russian deal, which makes clear — they say — that the deal was “intended” and was “understood as creating a firm commitment that Russia would construct the required nuclear plants in SA”.

The state law adviser’s memo has been long sought by the media and opponents of the forthcoming nuclear procurement as it was widely rumoured at the time that the office had given a strong warning that the proposed agreement was binding in nature, had budgetary implications and had to be debated publicly before it could be adopted…

Supplementary papers lodged in court on Wednesday argue that the state law adviser’s opinion “confirms the plain meaning of the obligation created by the Russian inter-governmental agreement … and the binding nature and specificity of the agreement reached”.

It was this opinion that is believed to have caused both then finance minister Pravin Gordhan and the then energy minister Ben Martins to oppose the signing of the agreement. Both were subsequently moved out of their positions by President Jacob Zuma in May 2014. Then director-general of energy Nelisiwe Magubane was a third casualty of the drama and quit after coming under pressure to support the agreement.

Opposition from Mr Martins, Mr Gordhan, and senior government officials to the agreement had the effect of postponing the signing for almost a year. In September 2014, with new Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson in place, SA and Russian-owned energy firm Rosatom signed a new version of the deal in Brussels…

Read the full article here.

Nuclear regulator confirms receipt of Thyspunt, Duynefontein applications

Engineering News,15 March, 2016.

The machine rolls on, untroubled by any doubts (my comment!)….

South Africa’s National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) confirmed on Tuesday that it had received, on March 10, two Nuclear Installation Site Licence (NISL) applications from Eskom for Thyspunt, in the Eastern Cape, and Duynefontein, in the Western Cape. The NNR said that both NISL applications had been received in line with Sections 20(1) and 21(1) of the NNR Act and mentioned Eskom’s intention to “construct and operate multiple nuclear installations (power reactors) and associated auxillary nuclear installations of a plant type and technology not yet identified”. Print Send to Friend 0 0 Eskom had been pursuing environmental impact assessments (EIA) at possible nuclear sites, with the Duynefontein property, near Cape Town, already housing South Africa’s only nuclear power station, the 1 800 MW, two-reactor Koeberg plant. The Thyspunt site, which is near Oyster Bay, in the Eastern Cape, was a greenfield site. The final EIA report, which recommended Thyspunt as the preferred site, was submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs on February 24, for review and approval.

Here is the full article.



French nuclear-build bidders will seek private partnerships

BDLive, Carol Paton, 14 March, 2016.

FRENCH state-owned energy giants EDF and Areva, which will bid to build SA’s nuclear power stations, will seek partnerships with private investors such as large industrial users of electricity, says French special envoy on nuclear energy Pascal Colombani.

Without specifying figures — costs will depend on the prescriptions set by the Department of Energy in the bid documents — French government officials said last week there were no financing shortcuts. A nuclear project in SA would require equity and debt from the government and other partners. Large electricity users could invest upfront with the French companies in exchange for discounted electricity tariffs.

By contrast, Russia, the other frontrunner in the bid, downplayed the need for the government to finance the project commercially or provide substantial equity.

It said finance could be provided by Russian government loans, secured by a long-term power purchase agreement…

(A personal note: EDF and Areva are both in financial trouble and I don’t think it would be wise  to be beholden to Russia. Perhaps the nuclear build won’t happen at all.)

See the full article…