Picture: THINKSTOCK
Picture: THINKSTOCK

Jonathan Hemson concludes his letter (Nuclear facts required, February 8) with, "Electricity production is complex and no technology should be off the table." This is true, and it is why one has to ask why Germany is now building new coal-fired stations at close to panic speed. What with all that carbon dioxide?

Perhaps it is because the average power rating of a typical wind turbine is 2MW, but on average in SA it produces only about 33% of that (0.66MW). Koeberg produces 1,800MW, 24/7/365. To replace Koeberg one would need 2,700 wind turbines! That is without mentioning all the coal stations that are coming up for replacement, which would require another 67,000 turbines.

But this is not the biggest problem, because 33% is the average output. There are times when there is virtually no wind and 100% standby is needed at short notice. Engineers reckon that 100% standby power is needed on line at all times to back up turbines if we want a reliable grid. Imagine the capital cost of that and the CO² pollution if we use coal.

Germany has relied on France’s nuclear plants to provide this up to now, but that deal seems to have broken down.

So, Mr Hemson, what is the answer?

Richard Becker
Via e-mail

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