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In South Africa, Nuclear Energy Is Becoming A Dirty Word via Forbes

The nuclear reactors are still a plan on paper. But already the noxious debate over their future has made nuclear energy a dirty word in South Africa. To build or not to build – the stalemate over the proposed nuclear reactors to power the continent’s most advanced economy shows no sign of being resolved. The sharp divisions over a nuclear-powered future are now beginning to hurt South Africa’s nascent renewables industry.

State power utility Eskom is dragging its feet on honoring government-brokered deals with private renewables companies. Its refusal to purchase 250 megawatts of power from wind and solar projects has left its Irish and Saudi Arabian suppliers fuming and in limbo. More than scuppering the deals, Eskom’s actions, critically, threaten to undermine the gains made by the country’s green energy program, which many have come to hail as the shining beacon of a renewables-based future . On the Fieldstone Africa Renewable Index or FARI, South Africa’s ranking has plummeted off the charts entirely, prompting concerns amongst investors over green energy’s future in the country. Its decline is ironic given the rainbow nation had topped the continent-wide list just four months ago.

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Drop in the cost of producing energy from solar and wind has been dramatic over the past few years all across the globe. South Africa’s own premier research agency Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has backed the case for an energy mix where 75% of the supply comes from renewable sources. Currently, only 2% of the energy is supplied by solar and wind projects.

Zuma administration’s reluctance to consider the case in favor of renewables combined with Eskom’s inflexibility with private energy producers is already shaking investor confidence in doing business with South Africa.

Earlier in August SMA Solar Technology folded its business in Cape Town to move to Germany and China citing ‘lack of commitment’ towards the renewable energy program. The current standoff between Eskom and green power companies is now threatening to risk billions of dollars of investment already pumped into the country.

Read more at In South Africa, Nuclear Energy Is Becoming A Dirty Word

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