Tag Archives: IRP

Zuma’s last ditch effort to ram through a nuclear power deal

M&G, Hartmut Winkler, 9 November, 2017

President Jacob Zuma’s term of office has been characterised by an absence of vision and associated initiatives. Zuma is instead known for his inaction and overt stalling tactics. Examples include delays in setting up the State Capture Commission of Inquiry, announcing a new board for the state broadcaster, and delaying the release of a report on the future of university fees.

His recent dramatic push to fast-track an expensive and highly controversial nuclear power station build is therefore very much out of character. But Zuma’s advocacy of the nuclear build needs to be understood in terms of another hallmark of his presidency – state capture. This expression refers to the systematic takeover of state institutions by presidential allies and the resulting exploitation of institutions for commercial advantage and profit by his benefactors.

It’s already become clear who is likely to benefit from South Africa pursuing the option to build nuclear power stations. The list includes the Gupta brothers and Zuma’s son Duduzane through their links to the Shiva uranium mine.

And then there’s Zuma himself. Speculation about why the president appears to be favouring a deal with Russian company Rosatom ranges from allegations of grand scale individual kickbacks to alleged commitments linked to funding for the African National Congress.

The controversy around the nuclear power option was precipitated three years ago when it emerged that the government had signed an agreement with Russia that paved the way for the use of Russian technology in planned new nuclear power stations. The problem was that there’d been a complete lack of due process – no costing, no public consultation, no proper proclamation and no competitive bidding. It was no surprise that the courts declared the awarding of the nuclear build to Russia illegal.

On top of this a very strong case has been mounted against South Africa pursuing nuclear power. Reasons include the fact that it can’t afford it, and doesn’t need nuclear in its energy mix.

Despite all of these developments, and the growing controversy and mounting opposition to the deal, Zuma appears determined to get it done before his term as president of the ANC ends in December. In the last of the reshuffles he appointed one of his closest allies, David Mahlobo, to the energy portfolio. This is generally seen as a last ditch attempt to roll out the nuclear build in the face of now massive opposition.

Reports suggest that this reshuffle was occasioned by Russian displeasure over what they see as a broken promise to award the building contract to Rosatom.

The energy minister’s next steps

Mahlobo appears to have devoted his first few weeks in office entirely to furthering the nuclear project. He has been active in the media declaring the nuclear build as a given – and necessary.

Mahlobo’s next steps are likely to be:

  • He is reported to be planning to release – in record time – a new energy plan. This, some suspect, will be biased towards nuclear.
  • Heightened public lobbying. This could include verbal attacks on nuclear critics as already initiated by the President.
  • The issuing of a request for proposals to build the nuclear plants to potential developers like Rosatom. Most observers expect the evaluation to favour Rosatom regardless of the merits of the other bidders.
  • Signing an agreement with Rosatom. This could mirror the USD$30 billion deal Russia signed with Egypt which, on the surface, will appear attractive because it would offer favourable terms such as annual interest of only 3% and the commencement of repayments after 13 years. But when scaling the 4.8 GW Egyptian agreement up to the 9.6 GW envisioned for South Africa, the total cost then already exceeds R1 trillion. Annual repayments from year 14 to year 35 then amount to about 5% of South Africa’s annual fiscus. Any cost overruns, which are common in many other nuclear builds, would vastly increase the debt further.

What’s changed

The global energy landscape has changed dramatically since South Africa first mooted the idea of supplementing its power mix with more nuclear. Major developments and changes include:

Not even government’s own recent energy plans have promoted nuclear.

A 2013 draft energy plan argued against immediate nuclear growth. (The plan was never formally adopted).

The last draft plan released in 2016 went as far as declaring new nuclear unnecessary until 2037.

Will it happen?

Nuclear plants are major long term investments, and these projects will not survive lengthy construction and operation periods without broad public support. There is definitely a lack of public support in South Africa.

The Zuma-Mahlobo work plan will face major opposition by other parties, civil society and even critics within the ruling party. Lengthy court challenges will query the validity of the energy plan process, the public consultation, the regulatory aspects, the site selection and the constitutionality of the entire process. Public protests highly effective in other spheres would now be directed against the nuclear build. The ruling party would probably abandon the scheme if it proves politically costly.

The danger is, however, that huge funds will have been wasted in coming to this realisation.

The stakes are high. Zuma’s efforts to promote this unpopular nuclear project are weakening him politically. Even party comrades perceived to be in his inner circle – like newly appointed Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba – recognise that going ahead with the programme at this stage would cripple the country economically. Repeated ministerial reshuffles to sideline his critics has further damaged Zuma’s standing in the ruling party and in broader society.

Hartmut Winkler, Professor of Physics, University of Johannesburg

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Nuclear on hold as government mulls putting Eskom in charge of the project

Engineering News, 30 September, 2016.

(EGSA contributor note: The delay for consultation is good news, but handing it over to Eskom sounds like a plan to fail – still no mention of the necessity to wait for the Integrated Resource Plan and the Integrated Energy Plan to go through the necessary process of formulation, public consultation, modification, more consultations, cabinet approval – be sure to tune in for the next exciting installment).

Government will not be issuing a call for proposals for its nuclear power expansion programme on Friday to allow for more time for consultations, which could mean shifting responsibility for implementation of the project from the Department of Energy to Eskom, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe confirmed on Thursday.

 

Sham public consultation

BDLive, 28 September, 2016.

The government’s newest plan to build nuclear plants is so far, another case of sham public consultation. It insists that the public has already been consulted. That is because back in 2010, when it drew up the now outdated integrated resource plan, public hearings were held.

Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson has refused to provide Business Day with any of the studies done to inform the procurement and has also refused the DA access to the proposal for the rollout of the nuclear build and other documents. All parties in Parliament’s energy committee have resolved to use the committee’s constitutional powers to compel the minister to produce the documents.

But predictably, the government faces another court challenge, with two civil society organisations arguing that the process is faulty. Among the grounds they are asking the court to use to set aside the procurement is the absence of public consultation.

The parties have finally, after a year of attempting to extract responses and documents out of the department, been given a court date.

For much of 2016, the government has not taken the legal challenge seriously. Last December, the Cabinet said it had decided to issue a request for proposals despite not having an updated integrated resource plan in place.

Two weeks ago, Joemat-Pettersson said the first round of tender documents would be issued on September 30.

On Tuesday, for the first time, there were rumblings from within the Cabinet that perhaps not all the procedural ducks for the nuclear build are in a row.

Naledi Pandor, the minister of science and technology, said she believed an integrated resource plan had to be done before the proposal was issued.

She is right and part of that should include genuine public consultation about nuclear energy. Without it, the government will surely have another protracted legal fight on its hands.

Here is the full article

SA meets more nuclear vendors amid ‘costly diversion’ criticism

The Department of Energy (DoE) confirmed on Wednesday that the second nuclear vendor parade workshop, which took place at a venue in the Drakensberg, had been concluded with delegations from China, France, South Korea and the US. The first such workshop, which was also held in the Drakensberg in late October, was attended by officials from the Russian Federation and Rosatom.

The workshops, the DoE said, involved presentations by the delegations of the four countries on their nuclear offerings and how, if selected, they would deploy the 9 600 MW of nuclear power envisaged in the current version of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).

Besides showcasing their technologies, the vendors outlined their offerings for the full nuclear value chain, including areas such as uranium mining, conversion and enrichment, fuel fabrication, localisation and industrialisation, power generation, safety and licensing, job creation, research and development, skills transfer and development. Read more on Engineering News

DoE aiming to release draft gas master plan this month

Engineering News, 2 June, 2014.

The South African government’s draft Gas Utilisation Master Plan (Gump) could be released for public comment in June, should the document receive sign-off during one of the early meetings of the new Cabinet, which was named by President Jacob Zuma on May 25.

(EGI-SA Ed. Nice name! Ambitious scope.)

Read more…