The Energy Portfolio Committee held a unique, open stakeholder meeting to discuss nuclear energy as a reliable supply of energy. The meeting was the first of its kind in Parliament, aS the floor was open to the all members of the public who wished to comment on what was being presented. The Committee believed that the Department of Energy should be doing more to ensure an increased supply of energy. Nuclear energy was one of the components of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) but there had not been much debate on the programme. The IRP was a long-term plan aimed at directing the expansion of the current fleet of power stations to resolve issues such as technical constraints, capacity, cost and affordability, and the amount of electricity that could be injected into the grid.
The Cape Peninsula University of Technology warned that two reactors were not enough, and that building three more plants would be better, and would contribute to job creation.
The Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NERSA) noted that the world’s perspective had changed after the Fukushima nuclear disaster stemming from an earthquake and subsequent tsunami on 11 March 2011. All countries were looking at what would happen should a similar kind of natural disaster engulf their reactors. Mitigation measures would cost the country, but it would also save in terms of security of mind. The Committee was told that one had to increase global governance of safe and environmentally friendly energy sources, which was in line with the IRP 2010.
The Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa explained that renewable energy and nuclear power were the fastest growing energy sources, each increasing by 2.5% a year. The fossil fuels would account for approximately 80% of energy use until about 2040. South Africa was the only player in nuclear generation on the African continent, but an increased will and political commitment by many African countries was noticeable.
Members of the public opposed to nuclear energy who were present at the meeting voiced concern that they were only given one minute to rebut the pro nuclear energy stakeholders to alert MPs to the dangers and pitfalls of nuclear energy. Concerns were raised about an evacuation plan in case of disaster, about radioactive waste disposal and the need for an IRP review, which should be done once every two years.
To read the full report, please go to: www.pmg.org.za/report/20130919-nuclear-energy-option-for-sustainable-supply-energy-stakeholder-meeting
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