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Nuclear power: SA currently lacks sufficient knowledge

In some unusual coincidence, media reports indicate that there may have possibly been a leakage at the Koeberg nuclear power station; and that President Cyril Ramaphosa and Joe Biden will discuss nuclear power during their next meeting.

South African bureaucrats apparently like to think of the country as a nuclear power. Amid growing concern about climate change and the exacerbating contribution of carbon-based electricity, the option of nuclear power cannot be ignored.

The unreliability of renewable power sources can be alleviated with wide geographical distribution, and battery technology is developing at a fast pace.

Still, nuclear power can make a valuable contribution to ensuring a reliable base-load supply.

The primary condition is, of course, that a country aiming to harness nuclear power must possess the necessary expertise to do so safety.

Thus far, South Africa's record in this regard has been very good. Since the pebble bed nuclear reactor project was terminated, though, more and more experts left the country.

South Africans have also not forgotten about the fiasco with former President Jacob Zuma's planned Russian nuclear transaction. The proven irregularities in that regard are not helping to calm the sceptics' nerves. And the ongoing crisis at Koeberg is not either.

In spite of the positive possibilities that nuclear power offers, South Africa is no longer in a position to benefit from it.

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