SA warned of 20-hour daily load shedding - TechCentral

SA warned of 20-hour daily load shedding


Expect load shedding 20 hours every day if South Africa doesn’t build 20GW of new power stations within a decade, a nuclear energy proponent warned on Tuesday.

“If we don’t come up with a strategy to build 20GW of coal or 20GW of nuclear we will have little electricity by 2025,” said Des Muller, Group Five nuclear construction services director.

One of four panellists at the Africa Energy Indaba’s nuclear forum in Sandton, Muller said if South Africa fails to create new baseload generators to replace Eskom’s ageing coal power stations, the country can expect four hours of electricity a day.

South Africa has committed to reducing its carbon dioxide emissions due to its impact on global warming, so building 20GW of new coal power stations is unlikely.

The panellists of nuclear experts said solar, wind, hydro and gas do not adequately create baseload power, which they believe is essential for economic growth and industrialisation.

Many environmentalists, who are strong proponents of solar and wind energy, believe a total rethink of how we use electricity is needed going forward, which would eliminate the need for baseload power.

Environmentalists see nuclear energy as backward technology that can only harm the planet. They believe future development in renewable energy storage solutions and the reduction in generation costs making all other forms of generation outdated, dangerous and costly.

“Nuclear energy is extremely expensive,” David le Page of Fossil Free South Africa said in 2015. “We have incredible wind and solar energy resources in South Africa. The very ambitious renewable energy programme that we have is already saving us an enormous amount of money that we would otherwise have spent on gas.”

He said baseload power is not a function of a particular type of energy. “It is a function of how you manage your overall electricity grid and particular resources within that grid,” he said.

Nuclear proponents, however, are convinced that for an economy to truly grow under the conditions of low carbon emissions, nuclear has to be an important component of the mix. They also believe nuclear is the safest, cleanest and cheapest energy producer. Nuclear proponents say gas generators are great for peaking power, but not for baseload power.

South Africa is polarised on the need for a 9,6GW nuclear build programme, with critics saying it will sink the economy and tie the country politically to Russia, which some suspect has struck a secret deal with President Jacob Zuma. Firing his nuclear-wary finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in December 2015 didn’t help.

Proponents of nuclear energy laugh — and cry — at these assumptions, explaining that too much time has been wasted on debating the need to push ahead with nuclear energy.

Areva South Africa MD Yves Guenon said the procurement process is taking too long.

“The nuclear process does not go quickly,” he said. “Even if you select the vendor by the end of 2016, it will take a long time to get licences — it takes years.”

He predicted that if South Africa selected vendors to create 20GW of nuclear power now, it would only see these up and running by 2035.

Scare tactics

Does that mean South Africa will have load shedding for a decade? The environmentalists will tell you that these are scare tactics and that the renewable energy private sector will build quick, affordable and safe solutions during a time of great innovation and advancements in the renewable sector.

If nuclear is delayed or halted and renewables don’t come to the party, we know what happened the last time we were late with a new build programme.

Eskom’s Medupi and Kusile power stations were supposed to go live by 2015, which would have dramatically changed Eskom’s current position financially and operationally. Instead of being cash flush and delivering adequate power, it resorted to load shedding for several months. This caused a decrease in consumption and a massive debt, which it wants to pass on to consumers via higher tariffs.

Delays in implementing key policies like the 1998 white paper on energy resulted in the sector operating in the blind, which caused the issues relating to Medupi and Kusile, according to Guenon.

“Everyone was blind in 2000,” he said. “We cannot be blind a second time. We have to go through the process.”

Muller concurred. “I was around when Medupi and Kusile [were given the green light],” he said. “The lights were shutting down and so Eskom signed these amazing contracts very quickly with little localisation.

“The nuclear build programme must go through a different approach,” he said. “Give it time, don’t make the same mistakes.”  — Fin24


  1. Richard Wickens on

    “Everyone was blind in 2000”, no guvment was blind. Eskom was already advising guvment of the need to build new power stations but guvment said NO!

    Straight from the wiki on Eskom “Due to the South African governments attempted privatisation of Eskom in
    the late 1990s, Eskom’s requests for budget to build new stations were

  2. The fact that Des Muller works for Group Five, a construction company, begs the question about how unbiased his opinion is. All in all, he should go and work for SANRAL, they have a similar propaganda strategy with respect to scare tactics.

  3. Coming from the company that was singled out as one of the biggest culprits in the 2010 stadium construction price fixing and corruption scandal…
    Meh… ignore…

  4. Hannes Lategan on

    Rather than wasting money on Nuclear which will take too long to construct and cost us money that we don’t have – Look towards more efficient sources…. Lower the load on the grid – Provide subsidization for Business and Households to leverage Solar and other Renewable Energy sources, such as Wind and Biomass etc.
    There is plenty of roof-space available for Solar Installations for instance – On both Private Households and Corporate Business’ buildings. The more of these initiatives/projects can be brought of the ground the better the grid will cope. The results will also be tangible, a lot faster than going down the nuclear route……

  5. Bunkum. Plain FUD, spoken by someone with a clear agenda. I’m not going to do the numbers, but one just has to work out what GDP growth would be needed to justify what he is saying and one would quickly see the flawed thinking. Even if you include how many current generation assets will need to be decommissioned in that time.

  6. Regardless of the source, government shouldn’t be supplying this new capacity. Only independent power producers will be able to generate the capacity in a reasonable amount of time and budget because the incentive for such things doesn’t exist in government.

  7. From G5’s website, so he actually works for SANRAL 🙂

    Media Releases

    Group Five named major contractor in Gauteng freeway improvement project

    13 May 2008

    Group Five has been awarded two contracts with a combined value of R3,5-billion.

    Group Five has been awarded two contracts with a combined value of R3,5-billion.

    Five has been awarded two contracts with a combined value of
    R3,5-billion, as part of the South African National Road Agency
    Limited´s (Sanral´s) R11,5-billion, Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project

    Group Five´s participation will be spread over three
    years, and as the lead contractor for the two contracts, its share is
    about half of the total value.Group Five´s contracts comprise
    lane additions and improvements to interchanges on the N1 freeway
    between Soweto and 14th Avenue, and the N3/N12/N17 freeway complex
    including the Reading and Elands interchanges