Creamer Media’s Mining Weekly Online has an interesting report titled Govt to tighten oversight role on state-owned entities that includes a discussion about Eskom’s plans for capital investments.
These investments are designed to make up for what is described as a decade or more of under investment in basic infrastructure. The plan, as described to Mining Week, includes strong support for the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) which is planned for initial operation in 2009. According to South Africa’s Public Enterprises Minister, Alec Erwin the PBMR will help to solve several pressing issues.
“The PBMR provides a plausible and cost-competitive alternative solution. PBMRs can be situated close to the point of use so that there is no need to upgrade either transmission or rail infrastructure,” he said.
He also mentioned the fact that concerns about global climate change had made nuclear power in general a more attractive alternative.
The article, however, shows that Eskom is directing only a small portion of its investments toward the project. The state owned utility, which supplies more than 90% of South Africa’s electrical power, also has plans to bring coal fired power plants out of mothballs and to add new coal and gas fired generation plants that will add more than 7,500 MW of electrical power capacity to the national grid. There is also an interesting article in the Mail and Guardian Online titled Erwin: Pebble bed the answer for coastal towns that expands on the benefits of the PBMR as described by Mr. Erwin.
Not surprisingly, there was an immediate response to the statements by Mr. Erwin from Earthlife Africa, the organization that has been leading the effort to derail the PBMR project for at least the past 6 or 7 years. Without mentioning the 7,500 MW of new fossil fuel power generation capacity being planned, Earthlife’s response to the Mail and Guardian focused on the escalating cost ESTIMATES for the development of PBMR’s, which is a new and potentially revolutionary technology.
According to their response, titled, Earthlife: The answer is blowin’ in the wind:
“Renewable energies would allow us to meet the growth and development goals of South Africa, while simultaneously allowing us to leave the legacy of a clean and safe environment to our future generations,” Earthlife Africa said.
It added that the renewable energies had the potential for tremendous job-creation and were possibly the most direct link between investment and poverty-alleviation available.
“Having already missed the opportunity to invest in ground-breaking solar power technology at the University of Johannesburg, it is hoped that the South African government will fast-track the implementation of renewable energy
technologies,” said the statement.
Have a great atomic day.