Australian news, and some related international items

The very bleak business case for nuclear energy

Nuclear industry urged to address business case, 16TH MAY 2018 ,BY: REBECCA CAMPBELL CREAMER MEDIA SENIOR DEPUTY EDITOR   Decisions on the future energy mix for South Africa need to be forward looking, not backward looking. So affirmed EE Publishers MD Chris Yelland in his keynote address to the National Nuclear Regulator’s second Nuclear Regulatory Information Conference on Wednesday.

Nuclear power in South Africa was constructed in the 1980s and has served South Africa well for the past three decades,” he said. It was the cheapest electricity source in the country until a decade ago. But that was no longer the case, he stated. Nuclear power would now be more expensive than new coalpower, or gas generation or renewable energy sources. …….

…………”The nuclear sector needs to address the real elephants in the room,” he asserted. “In my view the biggest elephant in the room is not the technology, but the business case.” There is great uncertainty about the future demand for grid electricity. Megaprojects have high costs and risks. Nuclear power plants also have long construction periods and high up-front costs. There are serious financing issues, both with the public and private sectors in South Africa (local institutions were unwilling to invest in nuclear projects). Nuclear power plants had to be run constantly at a high output level for maximum efficiency.

The risk associated with nuclear power was not low. While the risk of technological failure was low, when such failures did happen, the consequences were very serious. The crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power station in Japan had very severe financial consequences. Consequently, the private sector was reluctant to insure nuclear power plants, leaving that to governments.

Moreover, a nuclear new build programme would require a 100-year commitment to an energy technology and a specific vendor — in an uncertain world. He observed that nuclear energy was more prone to political interference because of geopolitical factors. At home, the image of the nuclearindustry had been severely damaged by its association, in the public mind, with former President Jacob Zuma and the allegations of large-scale corruption involving him, key members of his administration, and high ranking officials…….

May 17, 2018 - Posted by | General News

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