South Africa Slams the Door on Wind Power: Nuclear Powered Future Beckons

Brian Molefe

Brian Molefe: South Africa needs atoms not breezes.

***

STT followers might have tumbled to the fact that we’ve been pretty heavily focused on SA over the last month.

However, in this post, we head a few thousand clicks, west across the Indian Ocean to another ‘SA’; this time South Africa, which appears entirely sensible enough to be able to avoid the power supply and pricing calamity unfolding in South Australia.

With a solid grip on power generation essentials, the CEO of South Africa’s biggest power provider Eskom, Brian Molefe, is hip to fact that wind power is a proven failure, and is all set to plug South Africa into a nuclear powered future.

Renewable power ‘just raises Eskom’s costs’
Sunday Times
Brendon Peacock
24 July 2016

Public opinion may back an increasing proportion of renewable energy being plugged into South Africa’s power grid, but Eskom CEO Brian Molefe says further independent renewable power production will be impractical and what he really needs is nuclear energy.

Molefe on Friday was defending a decision by Eskom this week to stop signing new agreements with independent power producers.

According to Molefe, the push for renewables from the industry was based on the integrated resource plan of 2011 which was now out of date. Any additional increase in allocation would simply further strain Eskom’s cost base without making a useful contribution to the national grid.

“Sometimes it’s important to confront the facts rather than be passionate about issues.

On any given day I will need about 35,000MW at 6pm for peak demand. When that happens, none of the solar panels installed in South Africa today will be available since the sun will have set.

“I cannot guarantee that there will be enough wind today at 6pm to take us through the peak. That is a fact that confronts me on a daily basis.”

Meeting peak power demand meant having base-load power from coal-fired power plants from about 10am.

“I don’t need it then, but if I don’t have it then, I won’t be able to ramp up for the peak,” Molefe said.

He said Eskom was forced to buy day-time solar power or wind-generated power that it did not need from independent power producers.

“You can’t talk about competition in power production and then force me to buy from IPPs in 20-year agreements. The whole renewable energy industry’s competitive edge relies upon them being able to sign 20-year [power purchase agreements] with us. Surely that cannot be free-market economics?”

Instead, Molefe said he wanted South Africa’s base load to be provided by coal and nuclear.

Molefe said Eskom had not yet sat down with the National Treasury to discuss the cost of more such plants, but the procurement process was a Department of Energy responsibility. “The correct thing to do is wait for direction.”

Molefe said that despite his misgivings, he thought renewables had a bright future.

“Storage technology will come but it’s still early days in the deployment of the technology. I think they’re still at the development stage and I’m sad to say at this stage the deployment is still very clumsy. If one is really in favour of a green economy, one would actually support nuclear.”

A new IRP was due later this year or early next year, he said.

“It was supposed to be revised every two years, but it hasn’t been. The fact is, the current IRP on which the renewables programme is based is outdated and I don’t think renewables are contributing as much as people say they are. I don’t buy the argument that they have contributed to a reduction of load shedding.

“If anything, they’ve increased the burden. We have to buy solar and wind even when the wind generates at 2am. There’s nothing we can do with it at that time. And of the installed capacity of wind and solar energy, availability is only 30%. If you have 2,000MW installed, there is only 600MW available at any one time, yet we pay for 2,000MW.”

Kieran Whyte, head of the projects and energy group at the Baker and McKenzie law firm, said his main concern was the uncertainty now prevailing with regard to independent power producers.

The lack of clarity might mean capital would move elsewhere.

According to Whyte, the global trend was away from a dominant utility model and the local industry would be waiting to see how Eskom intended to continue developing its power base.

If Eskom stuck to a model of using its own balance sheet and approaching the regulator for increases to cover its costs, he said, corporate customers might increasingly look to develop their own power sources to achieve a degree of certainty over future costs.

“I cannot guarantee that there will be enough wind today at 6pm to take us through the peak. That is a fact that confronts me on a daily basis.”

Meeting peak power demand meant having base-load power from coal-fired power plants from about 10am.

“I don’t need it then, but if I don’t have it then, I won’t be able to ramp up for the peak,” Molefe said.

He said Eskom was forced to buy day-time solar power or wind-generated power that it did not need from independent power producers.

“You can’t talk about competition in power production and then force me to buy from IPPs in 20-year agreements. The whole renewable energy industry’s competitive edge relies upon them being able to sign 20-year [power purchase agreements] with us. Surely that cannot be free-market economics?”

Instead, Molefe said he wanted South Africa’s base load to be provided by coal and nuclear.

Molefe said Eskom had not yet sat down with the National Treasury to discuss the cost of more such plants, but the procurement process was a Department of Energy responsibility. “The correct thing to do is wait for direction.”

Molefe said that despite his misgivings, he thought renewables had a bright future.

“Storage technology will come but it’s still early days in the deployment of the technology. I think they’re still at the development stage and I’m sad to say at this stage the deployment is still very clumsy. If one is really in favour of a green economy, one would actually support nuclear.”

A new IRP was due later this year or early next year, he said.

“It was supposed to be revised every two years, but it hasn’t been. The fact is, the current IRP on which the renewables programme is based is outdated and I don’t think renewables are contributing as much as people say they are. I don’t buy the argument that they have contributed to a reduction of load shedding.

There is a conflict of interest. The country needs diversification of primary power generators.

“If anything, they’ve increased the burden. We have to buy solar and wind even when the wind generates at 2am. There’s nothing we can do with it at that time. And of the installed capacity of wind and solar energy, availability is only 30%. If you have 2,000MW installed, there is only 600MW available at any one time, yet we pay for 2,000MW.”

Kieran Whyte, head of the projects and energy group at the Baker and McKenzie law firm, said his main concern was the uncertainty now prevailing with regard to independent power producers.

The lack of clarity might mean capital would move elsewhere.

According to Whyte, the global trend was away from a dominant utility model and the local industry would be waiting to see how Eskom intended to continue developing its power base.

If Eskom stuck to a model of using its own balance sheet and approaching the regulator for increases to cover its costs, he said, corporate customers might increasingly look to develop their own power sources to achieve a degree of certainty over future costs.

Energy commentator Chris Yelland said there should be an independent grid management agency making decisions based on cost and economics, rather than having Eskom control access to the grid as a way of ensuring it could pay back the costs of Medupi and Kusile.

He said that a combination of open-cycle gas turbines and renewables could provide adequate base load.

South Africa remained overly reliant on coal for base-load power, he said, and going big on nuclear would tie the country to one technology and one player for nearly a century while other technologies continued to advance and became cheaper.

“It’s about economics and flexibility,” Yelland said.

“Least cost and least regret. Can we afford nuclear? I don’t believe studies on the levellised cost of power from nuclear versus diversified sources are receiving the public attention they deserve.”
Sunday Times

South african WF NgongHills

Brian Molefe’s real beef is with their predictable failure to deliver.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.

Comments

  1. Yes, I somewhat reluctantly agree, this is all okay in part – at least they possess enough simple common sense to acknowledge the patent stupidity that ‘renewables’ have to offer and not much of anything else – certainly not much in the way of reliable and affordable electric power.

    However, I still wish they’d stop giving in to what the leftist elites champion and want everyone to do: demonize coal.
    There is NOTHING wrong with coal and I see that opting for nuclear is all but bowing to the leftist elites ludicrous dogma and fascist ideology. Where they are waging a ridiculous and totally pointless war on the very commodity that made our society truly GREAT. There is no reason why this abundance of very efficient energy resource cannot continue to keep our modern world GREAT and continue with more wonderful innovations that only an energy dependent, industrialized society makes possible.

    There is plenty of coal – enough to last us for numerous decades, so why DEMONIZE and worse: abandon (or ignore) what is really the basis of our amazing technological world, on the whim of a handful of psychotic deluded leftists, who are pushing a very evil agenda?
    Why should such mindless, ignorant misfits have any say in other people’s lives and livelihoods anyway?

    Tell them to go to their clean, green energy free utopia and exist as the bunch of troglodytes they aspire to be, if that’s what they want – nobody’s stopping them. I say: “Go for it greenies, but PLEASE, don’t come back and try to drag us down to your level again”…
    Normal hard working people – yeah those horrible right wing capitalists, enjoy their energy dependent lifestyles that coal has provided for them for the last 150 years or so and we’re not interested in going back to the stone-age. EVER..

    We’re becoming rather tired and impatient with your constant leftist PC psuedo-science nonsense and whinging about everything that’s good. The good things that you and your loony ideology dictates must be eliminated – DESTROYED.
    GO AWAY Green Leftards and stay away. If you hate coal and your other favourite – ‘big oil’ so much, nobody is asking you to consume ANY energy – coal or fossil fuel derived, or from absurdly ineffective and useless renewable sources.
    If green energy is as wonderful as you all purport: STOP consuming fossil fuel energy (in any form) RIGHT NOW otherwise you’re guilty of gross hypocrisy.
    Go and build your own GREEN utopia on some distant wasteland or island somewhere far away, complete with useless bird killing wind farms and solar-panel farms and stay there, far away from us…

    Coal fired power: the BEST option for Australia.

  2. Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    Energy sanity, sense and reason prevails in South Africa.
    Watch for more countries to ditch the feel-good green fantasy of wind/solar power, to adopt nuclear as their premier supplier of non-CO2 emitting baseload power.

  3. Son of a Goat says:

    Just a reminder to all Australians that are employed by the wind industry that when filling out tonight’s census put your occupation as “The production of intermittent, unreliable and expensive energy.”

    Where it asks for your actual daily tasks put “Whinging on Twitter and other social media to like minded deluded green fairies.”

    Thank you for your assistance.

    • Ottoman Empire says:

      SOAG, won’t the wind industry be filling out their CON-census?
      Analysis of up to date data indicates 97% of the wind industry are frauds and criminals who are now in denial.

  4. Hi,

    I just started a petition “SA PREMIER JAY WEATHERILL : Demand the resignation of the Energy Minister for HIGH POWER PRICES CAUSING SA’s JOBS CRISIS and also 15,000 household POWER DISCONNECTIONS, frequent POWER BLACKOUTS and the JULY 2016 POWER CRISIS” and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name.

    Our goal is to reach 100 signatures and we need more support.

    You can read more and sign the petition here:

    https://www.change.org/p/sa-premier-jay-weatherill-demand-the-resignation-of-the-energy-minister-for-high-power-prices-causing-sa-s-jobs-crisis-and-also-15-000-household-power-disconnections-frequent-power-blackouts-and-the-july-2016-power-crisis?recruiter=135406845&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=share_email_responsive

    Please share this petition with anyone you think may be interested in signing it.

    Thankyou for your time.

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