Alternative Energy South Africa: Time to Prepare for "Post Commodity Economy"
Mining's contribution to South Africa's GDP has shrunk from 14% in 1983 to less than 7% by the end of the 1990s. Gold reserves are only expected to last another 10 years. The number of people employed in mining had fallen from 800,000 to 400,000 contributing to rising unemployment.
This report in the South African Business Report notes that South Africa has only another 40 years of coal reserves left. This is ironic as South Africa is a leader in coal-to-liquid technology which can produce oil from coal.
SASOL is one of the leaders in this field and recently signed contracts for two plants in China costing over a billion dollars. A few days ago 6 workers were killed at one of the petrochemical group's plants in South Africa in the third blast in the last three months.
Ompi Aphane, the chief director in charge of electricity, would not be drawn on whether the government would go for nuclear power as an alternative to coal-fired power stations, saying this was a policy issue the government had to decide on. South Africa is also a leader in "pebble bed" nuclear reactors which are supposedly walk away safe.
But, he said, "clean" coal technologies were being developed and would have to be explored along with other alternative energy sources.
Details of South African use of nuclear PBMRs:
How PBMR reactors work:
The Other Side - What's Wrong with the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor: