Following our previous blog post nuclear power – sorting fact from fiction we’ve put together a short and easy-to-read fact sheet. You can print it out here Nukes fact sheet leaflet or read the summary below.
Fact: The nuclear industry is vastly resourced in comparison to the public
interest community that voluntarily works – usually with no budgets – on
drawing attention to nuclear power impacts on people and planet. Between 1999 and 2009, the nuclear industry spent $645 million on lobbying and
almost $63 million on campaign contributions.
Concern: The South African government is considering spending an estimated R1 trillion on 6 new Nuclear power reactors. Where will this money come from? Loan guarantees and subsidies are insufficient to construct the new reactors. Invariably tax revenue will have to cover this cost.
Case in point: In South Africa, 13 years was spent pursuing the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor. During this time R9 billion was spent on research and development and another R22 billion would have been needed to complete a demonstration model.
Fact: The key driver behind the recent proclamations around nuclear appear to be political.
Concern: Political will and political perception of economic priorities rather than actual economic factors is the single most important driver for new nuclear construction.
Case in point: In the US, in their first 15 years, nuclear and wind technology each produced a comparable amount of energy (nuclear:
2,6 billion kWh; wind 1,9 billion kWh), but the subsidy to nuclear outweighed that of wind by forty times ($39,4 billion and around
R900 million respectively). Why do we keep stacking the deck against renewable energy and then say renewable energy can’t meet our energy needs?
Fact: Nuclear power stations produce, high, medium and low-grade radioactive waste, which are all highly toxic. No country in the world has approved an operational disposal site for isolating the high levels of radioactive wastes from the environment for the hundreds of thousands of years they will remain a threat.
Concern: By signing off on R1 trillion worth of new Nuclear, we leave future generations with a massive Nuclear waste problem.
Case in Point: Sweden is one of the very few countries working seriously on a high level waste disposal site. In order to pay for this effective waste disposal site the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority has indicated a necessary increase of costs per electricity unit sold by some 300 percent.
RENEWABLE ENERGY AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY
Fact: South Africa has a wide range of energy efficiency and renewable energy resource options that are instantly available and cheaper than new nuclear power plants.
Concern: It is extremely unlikely that South Africa will be capable of finding viable means of financing both a nuclear programme and an extensive renewable energy supply programme.
CLIMATE CHANGE AND EMISSIONS REDUCTION
In a context where there is global pressure to decrease emissions, nuclear energy then looks like a viable option. However, given our limited financial resources and social needs, we have a moral obligation to spend public money on options that provide the cleanest and safest solutions the fastest.
For nuclear power to make a meaningful contribution to reducing global CO² emissions trends, 2,000 Koeberg-size reactors would have to be
operating globally by mid-century. That means commissioning a new plant every one to two weeks from now on.
TIME TO DECIDE
The South African government is currently in the position to make a choice between a nuclear compromised future versus one dominated by renewables and the more efficient use and generation of energy.
GIVEN THESE FACTS, WHAT WOULD YOU CHOOSE?