How many people can come together in one room and agree that nuclear power is a good solution? Of course it’s presented as the cleaner alternative, but it’s not close to being a solution. You might even say it’s something that can prevent an inevitable crisis for a few years, but it’s definitely not a path you want to follow if it can be avoided.
The Motivation for Nuclear Power
As it stands South Africa already has two of them, which generate about 5% of the energy the country needs. The first one has been operational since 1984 and hasn’t risen too much attention in terms of environmental struggles. But the demand has rapidly increased, leaving us with the recent memory of load shedding. In order for Eskom to sustain the power demand they have signed several nuclear agreements with several countries, including France, Russia and China. The aim is to add another six nuclear plants to the existing two.
However, the lack of project funding has substantially slowed down the process. 9GWe of energy by 2030 was an initial investment of R50 billion, which would be paid over the course of the project. When the decision to invest was made, Eskom was pretty confident they would have the necessary resources to see it through. But just like the renewable energy project that was launched in 2011, things have slowed down due to financial constraints. But the nuclear project enjoys more attention, because the renewable energy program will cost more than R1 trillion for a 2030 deadline.
At face value it makes sense why Eskom chose the nuclear route. For starters, it’s still cheaper than renewable energy. Secondly, it doesn’t pollute the air like coal and fossil fuel. So what’s the big problem with nuclear power plants if they are clean and cheap? If it prevents load shedding from taking another death grip on the country, why not?
The Truth of the Situation
Just so there is no confusion, a nuclear power plant is the same thing as a nuclear bomb. Both work with a nuclear reactor, and everything that comes into contact with it will either mutate or just die. We’ve already seen what happened to China when a natural disaster damaged one of their nuclear plants, which should serve as a clear warning. But a potential mass explosion isn’t the only thing people have to worry about.
With nuclear plants come nuclear waste. If you haven’t heard by now, this is radioactive waste that ruins everything that gets too close. To give you an idea of how problematic nuclear waste is, America is still struggling to figure out what they should do with theirs. While some people are fighting to transport all of the waste from some 100 plus nuclear plants to a singular spot, others believe it would be too dangerous to transport the waste across their highways. At the moment they are throwing it into holes that are dug around the plant it comes from. They literally have metric tons of radioactive waste and they don’t know what to do with it, because nobody wants it in their backyard.
Now, South Africa isn’t nearly as big as America. And where two nuclear plants may not have caused much concern, eight of them scattered around is something else. Regardless of what waste management plan Russia can bring to the table, it’s clear nobody in the world has a clue on how to actually dispose of it effectively.
What’s more is that nuclear power is not a form of renewable energy, it still comes with it’s share of pollution, and it’s inevitably a ticking time-bomb. Wherever it decides to explode, nothing can survive in the area for hundreds of years.
Where does it Leave Us?
I could go on and on about the risks involved with nuclear power, but it’s not going to change the situation. Eskom’s main priority resides within nuclear energy because it won’t cost them nearly enough as renewable energy, and at the same time they are building strong links with countries such as Russia and China. This leaves the rest of South Africa in a panic position.
Unfortunately there isn’t much we can do about it. Burning down schools and supply trucks is a popular option it seems, be we all know it only leads to more damage. Ultimately we cannot stop Eskom from favoring nuclear energy, but you can choose where YOUR energy comes from.
If you haven’t noticed by now, solar power is everywhere. In fact, you’ll be surprised to know how many things you can power inside your home just through solar panels. While you can add permanent installations such as geysers and lighting, there are several portable solar power options as well. You can even use solar power for camping. But it doesn’t have to end there. Thanks to hydro and wind power, your options for taking your home off the grid are just increasing.
Yes, you can take your home solidly off the grid just through solar power. And maybe it’s time to show Eskom how things are done the South African way. We don’t need nuclear bombs sitting in our backyards, because South Africans are known for their initiative. Instead of protesting against a dictator that’s not going to listen anyway, let’s prove our point by shifting to renewable energy.