From the co-founder of Greenpeace, no less:
Wind and solar power have their place, but because they are intermittent and unpredictable they simply can’t replace big baseload plants such as coal, nuclear and hydroelectric. Natural gas, a fossil fuel, is too expensive already, and its price is too volatile to risk building big baseload plants. Given that hydroelectric resources are built pretty much to capacity, nuclear is, by elimination, the only viable substitute for coal. It’s that simple.
I assume the cost-benefit ratio is somewhat different for South Africa (and probably tilted more heavily in favour of coal), but this is also relevant for an economy-minded developing state such as ours:
Nuclear energy is expensive. It is in fact one of the least expensive energy sources. In 2004, the average cost of producing nuclear energy in the United States was less than two cents per kilowatt-hour, comparable with coal and hydroelectric. Advances in technology will bring the cost down further in the future.
After Koeberg’s two reactors have both been restored to full capacity, the temporary power crunch in the Western Cape should be over. But this doesn’t address the fundamental long-term problem, which is the result of a growing economy without any corresponding growth in energy supply. The solution to this problem is obvious – build more nuclear plants – but whether we seize it, trapped as we are between the doddering bureaucratic inertia of Eskom and the ideologically-driven lunacy of Earthlife Africa, remains to be seen.