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Desalination Hybrid Could Revitalize Semi-Arid Zones

A recent article in Engineering News argued that wind andsolar could provide the bulk of South Africa’s power at the least cost. Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz argued that building22 GW of wind and solar capacity and 8 GW of “backup” (in the form of coal and/or gas) was the sensible solution to supplying a reliable 8 GW of electrical power to South Africa. Apparently his argument is that the amount of money saved on fuel will outweigh the cost of such extreme overbuilding.

Having seen actual results of such folly based on computer modelling and other types of simulations, one can be forgiven for being skeptical of such claims. But even if there’s a grain of truth to it, what was missing from consideration is the option of building 8 GW of nuclear power capacity. Sincenuclear fuel costs are trivial and will reliably remain so in the future (unlike volatile coal and especially gas prices), whatever fuel savings might be gained by the massive costs ofbuilding 22 GW of wind and solar are of no consequence ifnuclear is used.

Currently there are plans to build nearly 10 GW of nucleargenerating capacity in South Africa. Alarmists cry that this will cost R1-trillion, a number pulled out of thin air by antinuclear campaigners. In fact, the cost (based on nuclearbuilds happening in Korea, China, and elsewhere) should be less than half that. And with several countries vying for thatbusiness, South Africa is in a good position to get a good deal.

Tim Simpson

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