Stay clear of nuclear, Germany warns SA

Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – Germany, which recently snubbed nuclear energy to focus on growing the renewable energy industry, is looking for partners to bring rapid change to the sector.

German ambassador to South Africa Walter Lindner addressed the opening of the SA International Renewable Energy Conference on Monday, with a message to stay clear of nuclear energy.

“After the Fukushima nuclear accident, Germany decided to fundamentally change its energy supply,” he told the crowd, including Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson, who was seated in the front row.

“We (Germany) have the know-how for nuclear supply and a lot of companies who work in this sector,” he said. “Yet, we decided to give it up for several reasons.

“It was the first time a highly industrialised country decided to give it up.”

Joemat-Pettersson supports renewable energy with vigour, but she also has her eye firmly on the Nuclear Build Programme, which aims to bring on 9 600 MW of nuclear power by 2030, as well as gas-to-fire power generation.

Lindner said Germany has set itself an “ambitious long-term target of 35 years” to increase the energy mix from “30% to 80% of renewable energy”.

It also wants to reduce energy consumption by 50% and greenhouse gasses by 80% in that time.

Germany is partnering the conference to share and gain insights and to strengthen ties with other stakeholders in the renewable energy sector.

“We need international partners for discourse to exchange best practises and support change,” said Lindner.

He said Africa can be the leader in renewable energy growth, especially with its huge source of wind, sun and water.

“We don’t have time for science to prove the effect of climate change,” he concluded, to a resounding round of applause.