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DA: Statement by Sej Motau, Democratic Alliance shadow minister of energy, calling on Minister Peters to explain details of nuclear deals in IRP 2010 (12/10/2010)

12th October 2010

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The Minister of Energy, Dipuo Peters, needs to answer several important questions regarding South Africa's energy future, particularly the use of nuclear energy. Last week the minister signed a Memorandum of Understanding with South Korea for joint co-operations in nuclear energy, which will presumably result in South Korean companies receiving first preference in tenders associated with nuclear technology. The Minister has also indicated that the Department is also considering Chinese technology. The DA believes that this move is misguided in that South Korean and Chinese nuclear technology is generally second generation and more importantly, their safety standards are not as rigorous as those of European countries such as France. The Department of Energy should therefore consider collaboration with European countries, instead of taking risks with second-rate technology. It is imperative that the best supplier of nuclear energy is utilised, particularly when taking into account the dangers and costs that will be associated with its implementation.

How will the tender processes for the R1.3 trillion worth of contracts for the construction of nuclear power stations be handled? Considering the corruption and kick-backs associated with the secrecy involved in the arms deal, it is crucial that the process is absolutely transparent, open and above board. The Minister needs to categorically state that the process in the issuing of contracts will be open to public scrutiny at all stages.

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However, the Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the proposals contained in the proposed plan for South Africa's energy programme - the Draft Integrated Electricity Resource Plan (IRP 2010). In particular, its shift away from coal generated power and provision for a growing contribution to the national grid through renewable and alternative energy sources, including nuclear power. However, before the proposals contained in the IRP 2010 are considered for implementation, a number of key questions need to be answered- what type of nuclear technology will be considered, from which country and whether the contracts for the construction of nuclear power stations will be put to open tender.

The IRP 2010 plan provides for significant reduction in carbon emissions to mitigate the effects of green house gasses while allowing for only a marginal increase in the price of electricity to the consumer. With the ever rising cost of electricity, this consideration should be welcomed.

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The Department of Energy has indicated that the IRP 2010 represents a move towards reliance from diversified energy sources including fourteen percent from nuclear energy. While the DA welcomes the move from the reliance on outdated coal technology before this process of implementing is embarked upon, the DA believes that there are a number of serious questions that require clarity from the Minister of Energy.

The DA calls on all interested and affected parties - and this is anyone who uses electricity in this country - to get involved in the current public participation process by making their views on IRP 2010 known to the Department. We will also be writing to the Minister of Energy with our concerns.

 

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