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10 December 2015

Using nuclear technologies to address water shortages

A water shortage in South Africa in general and Cape Town in particular has resulted in proposals that nuclear energy could be used for the production of desalinated water.

“The city council drew the ire of the Cape Town Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CTCCI) for not using the opportunity that the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station offered for the production of desalinated sea water. Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Janine Myburgh said the city council and Eskom should make better use of the heat generated at Koeberg, as was being done in the Middle East”.

“As Cape Town tightens up water restrictions, it is time to look at desalination as a long-term measure to improve our water supply”.

“One opportunity going begging is the Koeberg power station”.

“Nuclear reactors actually produce a lot more waste heat than electricity, and the scandal is that we don’t use the ‘free’ heat to desalinate sea water and make an important contribution to this water-scarce country”.

“It is standard practice to run desalination plants in tandem with power stations in the Middle East, to produce most of the water for the desert countries and even to water golf courses. Why don’t we do it here? The answer is probably that Eskom and the city council never talked to each other when Koeberg was planned”.

“If the global warming prophets of doom are even half right we will need both of these technologies in the future, so the sooner we start and get to grips with the technology the more we will learn and the better decisions we will make when it is time to upscale the desalination plants,” Myburgh said.