“Our government has a simple choice: it can perpetuate its energy catastrophe or join the twentieth century before it is too far behind us. If it wants us to be a modern, energy-rich country, it should repeal the ban on electricity trade, and let buyers, including municipalities and ‘intensive’ users, decide whose power to buy”.
Both sides in the nuclear debate ignore that Eskom has made SA poorer: Leon Louw today in BDlive published by Business Day.
Lest there be any doubt of the kind my earlier column generated, I agree with antinukes that the government should not proceed with the proposed 9,600MW nuclear deal. And I agree with pronukes that nuclear power should be “part of the mix”.
The trendiest antinuclear argument is not about viability or safety, but fear of corruption. Mr Eberhard wants opponents to “demonstrate that the initiative is not corrupt.” Why? Clean government is the responsibility of procurement and law enforcement institutions.
Since both sides assume that nuclear power is legitimately a government decision, they squabble about which bureaucratic blunder will be least calamitous. They learnt nothing from the government’s gargantuan electricity failure. They ignore the fact that perpetuation of the Neanderthal Eskom monopoly makes us trillions of rand poorer than we would have been with energy sufficiency.
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What we do know from the world’s experience is that there is a near-perfect correlation between energy supply and economic growth, that the former tends to precede the latter, and that technology causes the latter to outgrow the former. In other words, we cannot prosper without there being much more energy than Eberhard suggests.
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If the government wants prosperity — perversely, it might not — it should emulate prosperous coal-rich developing countries such as our Brics partners, India and China. It should unbundle Eskom, deregulate energy (with or without privatisation), and promote a rationally balanced energy “mix”. According to a United Nations’ energy forecast, the mix should include a declining proportion of fossil fuel and an increasing proportion of nuclear and other “renewables”.