Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Who has the power?

It's not often I sit down and write opinionated posts but after seeing things being said on Twitter over the past few months which made my brain quiver at some of the comments, I felt the need write this. Twitter is a great social platform for people to use but I feel some use it as an outlet to just to complain, sometimes I feel like I'm reading the comments section on the News24 website. Yes there is validation to some topics but people chose to ignore the logic behind certain things and just bitch and moan, mostly it is because many others are doing it, so they tend to think its "the cool thing to do". 

Whats got me all hot and bothered is the current Load Shedding taking place around the country but its not the actual power cuts that has me annoyed, it is the reaction from the public. If you guys didn't know, Eskom is having a MAJOR power crisis. The grid is taking massive strain and it hasn't been from now but for a good few years. They've managed the problem for a few years but with growing pressure on the grid and on going development they just cannot manage anymore and hence load shedding has been brought back into our lives. 

Now I'm not saying people don't have the right to complain, of course they do! They pay for the service so they should damn well expect it! The fickle nature of some tends to irritate me though, load shedding is announced and they're up in arms over it, swearing Eskom, swearing the government, swearing the coal for being wet, etc. Then AB deVilliers comes along, smashes a 100, Bafana win a game, Kim K releases a book of selfies and all is forgotten, then Eskom announce again that stage 1 load shedding is back, cue the outrage as if they never expected it in the first place. Lets understand one thing now, this problem is going to go on not for the next few months, nor the next few years but rather the next 5-10 years! So the milk has already been spilt, stop blody crying over it, there is no quick fix to it either, no matter how much money you throw at it, things take time to build and if you rush it, you're bound to fuck it up.

Many like to pin point and finger the current government for this but the reality is that the problem started a long time back, when the new government came into power, yes, sadly even our beloved Nelson Mandela has a blame in this whole matter, then minister of Minerals and Energy Penual Maduna would have been briefed on the countries energy situation which at the time was fine and had surplus but given that there was keen interest in the country from outside investment, it was always foreseen that South Africa would have an economic boom with the destruction of apartheid. We were a young country, rich in minerals and resources, ready to take on the world, and take on the world we did! Sadly not much attention was paid to our aging power grid, yes they were some new ventures taken such as the Lesotho Highlands project which produces a great deal of hydro power but there was nothing substantial to supply the country. At the same time, Eskom never performed maintenance on any of the running coal fired power stations. 

If one has a car, you have to send it for a service at regular intervals yes? Well same applies to power stations but hardly any was done. Like all mechanical things, they only span a certain number of years and with most of ours, we're pushing the limits, hence we're feeling the crunch now. Eskom detected this problem too late and hence began the rush to build 2 new coal fired power stations , namely Kusile and Medupi, let's not get into that mess. Why coal fire though? It's an old technology and there are cleaner methods to produce power now? Yes they embarked on greener ways to generate power such as the wind farms in the Western Cape and the Hydro schemes in Drakensberg and Ladysmith  but those aren't nearly adequate to supply the countries growing power needs and solar is juar far too expensive and not viable. 

Realistically the only answer to the problem now is nuclear, yes I know, "OOOO radiation, Chernobyl, mutants, toxic waste, blah blah." Do me a favour, before you complain, go do some fucking research, you have time to bitch and moan on twitter, open up Google and search nuclear energy. Not only is it the most efficient way of producing power but also the cleanest, the waste and deposits are minimal and its much safer than people make it out to be. The last disaster recorded from a nuclear reactor was Fukushima which in all honesty was due to unforeseen circumstances, it was something unpredictable but lessons were learnt in the process. If you need further proof that Nuclear is the answer, lets take a look at Europe, it's a nice place in which people like to frequent, lets take a look at a city, ah Paris, the city of love... did you know the primary source of electricity in Paris is from  nuclear power?

France's nuclear history dates back to the 1890's with Pierre and Marie Curie but the roll out on nuclear power came about in 1973 during the oil crisis when the "Messmer Plan" was unveiled. It started what has now become one of the biggest nuclear programs in Europe, so much so France produces excess power which they sell to "nuclear free countries" like Switzerland and Norway. There are lessons we can learn from France, set up these reactors distances from civilization, also added layers of protection to prevent another Fukushima from happening. So yes, like humans, nuclear power is evolving too. Also another interesting fact, did you know most war ships, aircraft carriers and submarines run on a nuclear reactor? They could sail the world non stop for 3 years without stopping! 

South Africa is no stranger to nuclear power either, the previous government are seen as the enemy because of apartheid but to see what they've achieved after being shunned by the world is sometimes jaw dropping. Pelindaba which is now closed was our main Nuclear Research Centre, they developed Atom bombs that made the mighty USA shit them self and saw them threaten the government with war if we didn't stop the program and tests off the coast of Namibia. They made strides into the technology and from that saw Koeberg being built and commissioned by 1984. It is till now the only functional nuclear power station on the African continent and still ranks as one of the safest ever built in the world, besides minor nuts and bolts that go into the reactor due to human negligence.

So we're no stranger to this sort of thing, but then came outrage over the alleged deal Zuma signed with Putin with regards to the construction of multiple nuclear plants in SA. Whats the issue? Have you people not heard of BRICS? Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, 5 of the worlds current fastest growing economies, yes South Africa is quite far behind the others but we're in there with the big dogs, we're all relatively young and we have the opportunity to share and help each other. South Africa has large quantities of uranium which is needed to power nuclear power stations, Russia has the experience in building them. A trade for their knowledge and our minerals seem fair but no, the self proclaimed justice league says otherwise but the same morons air their unsatisfaction when they don't have electricity to charge their phones or watch TV. 

It's quite ironic on the whole, they are against the solution but are angered by the situation. Like I said from the beginning, Load Shedding is hear to stay, I'm not saying everyday, every week and every year but for the next 5 - 10 years, just be prepared, even if Medupi and Kusile go live, the existing stations might have to be shutdown due to the lack of maintenance. Besides the fact that we recommissioned power stations that have been mothballed and are running over than their life expectancy, those even prove to be a hazard to the communities around them. So I appeal to everyone, yes its utter bullshit what we as a country are being put through but sadly it's one of those things, we're lucky we are informed of such things. Countries like India, Pakistan and other African countries have random unannounced power cuts for 6 hours or longer! We just have to somehow get through this, swearing, bitching, moaning won't help, it might help reduce stress levels but don't follow the herd and do it for the sake of doing it. Study your load shedding time tables, make sure you are prepared for them and find things to do during these times. Lets be civilised about the matter going forward okay?

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