Nuclear or coal is a false choice


One criticism Greenpeace hears a lot about our stance against nuclear power is that it (implicity or explicitly depending on who’s making the criticism) makes us pro-coal power. If we don’t have nuclear we must have coal, they say. As if coal and nuclear is an either/or choice.

It doesn’t take long to find just what Greenpeace’s view is of coal-fired power stations and that we’re as much against them as we are nuclear reactors. It’s not us who are presenting a false and dangerous choice. That dubious honour belongs with the power companies and the money men.

Take the recent events in South Africa. The World Bank has refused a loan to the government to build a new nuclear power plant but has lent it $3.75 billion to build a coal-fired power plant.


How did this happen?

Richard Morier, a spokesman for the World Bank, said the reason is nuclear reactors are “still not the least-cost option.” He noted the bank last financed a nuclear reactor in Italy in 1959.

 The South African government and the World Bank see coal and nuclear as one-or-the-other. What about renewables? Renewable energy is woefully under-used in Africa and yet it is the perfect solution for the continent. It’s cheap, easily and quickly built and – for often small and disparate villages and communities – a much more sensible choice than huge centralised power stations.

The first wind turbine erected in Africa at Batokunku in The Gambia supplies enough electricity for 2,000 people. How many of those would $3.75 billion dollars buy?

Posted by Justin on April 13, 2010 9:53 AM

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