029 John Clarke, Energy Entrepreneur in South Africa

Fire2Fission Podcast
Fire2Fission Podcast
029 John Clarke, Energy Entrepreneur in South Africa

John Clark discusses his entrepreneur ventures in energy and how bringing nuclear to South Africa could solve the country’s energy challenges.

Watch the full conversation on YouTube. Follow along with the transcript on Descript.

[00:00:00] John Clarke: The thing is there’s not many people that are pushing forward, but now there’s a couple of entrepreneurs that I’m loving and, you know, we all collaborating to try and push, so it’s about education as well. So we educating people on nuclear and, the thorium cycle. And I tell people, and I, I have it even on my, my profile pictures. I speak about the thorium, I speak about us having the ability take the stuff, put it through the plasma, put it through the reactor, you know, which is our third phase plan. So it’s incredible that it’s here and we have the ability to change people’s lives, and it takes this much for a thousand lives.

[00:00:37] Intro: Just because the facts are A, if the narrative is B and everyone believes the narrative, then B is what matters. But it’s our job in our industry to speak up proudly Soberly. And to engage people in this dialogue, those two and a half billion people that are on energy poverty, they need us. America cannot meet this threat alone.

If there is a single country, of course, the world cannot meet it without America that is willing to, we’re gonna need you the next generation to finish the job. Nuclear regulations, we need scientists to design new fuels, focus on net public benefits. We need engineers to invent new technologies for over absurd levels of radiation production entrepreneurs to sell those technologies.

And we’ll march towards this. We need workers to. With High Tech Zero Prosperity Football, diplomats, businessmen, and women and Peace Corps volunteers to help developing nations skip the development transition sources of, in other words, we need you.

[00:01:41] Mark Hinaman: Okay, so welcome back to another episode of Fire2Fission podcast. We’re excited today to have John Clark, the founder of 4Ava Energy in South Africa. John, how you doing? 

[00:01:51] John Clarke: Hey. Hey. Good in you.

[00:01:53] Mark Hinaman: Thanks so much. Absolutely. A little bit of time difference between us. So excited to chat with you today. 

[00:02:00] John Clarke: Hope you don’t, I hope you, you’re having a good breakfast day or are you, are you just about to finish this? 

[00:02:07] Mark Hinaman: Yeah, I’m still working on my morning coffee. 

John, for our audience, why don’t you give kind of just a quick background on 4Ava Energy and then we can dive into, well, I guess before we get started, I, I wanna highlight what, you know, we’ve spoken a couple times on the phone before and the first time you were challenged Because of the grid situation, electricity situation in South Africa.

Right. I was sitting on the call for like 15 minutes and, well, I guess he is not showing up. And then you emailed me back afterwards and said, well sorry I missed the call. The power went out. I found it ironic that you were calling to try and talk about the future of power and you didn’t have power.

So I mean, 

[00:02:46] John Clarke: it’s, it’s, that’s exactly, that’s such a nice segue into how the business started is because of this. Yeah, we’ve, we’ve, we’ve had reports about this since 1994. Yeah. So I mean, in 1998 it got worse and they did a whole ESCOM report. You can do some research on that. 1998, they told them that, you know, if you don’t maintain your current coal fleet power stations, I mean, it, it’s just obvious if you, if you have a car, you don’t maintain your car, what’s gonna happen?

Same thing. So, I mean, it’s just natural. Cause you don’t even need to be a scientist or even a rocket scientist to figure that out. 

[00:03:24] Mark Hinaman: So so what’s the background on you? Where, where are you from? Where’d you start? Tell us just a little bit. 

[00:03:30] John Clarke: Yeah, I mean, I, I came up from, I came up from the free state.

It’s a mining town that actually started back, it developed due to mining and due to mining gold and it’s called the cold fields and in the free state. And I moved to Johannesburg about 20 years ago. To pursue the Mandela dream. You know, like everybody wants to move to the city and, you know, you wanna try and do you wanna move up, move up in the ladder, and, you know, once you from school you know, you, that’s, that’s, that’s your kind of, and this is the place where we, cuz then Johannesburg was the capital of the gold industry.

You know, I mean, you can just go do a lot of history on that. That’s, that’s a beautiful history. I mean, the gold Reeve. And how much they still easily, they east lift and reserves. And so mining is, is definitely big. And that’s where I come from from, from their perspective. I mean then obviously getting to the 20 years in finance and from selling short-term insurances, like from call centers and all there is to doing big portfolios, you know, where you are managing brokers, you know, that’s why I left.

And now into the energy business. It’s completely new for me, but exciting and fun and I mean, I found out, it’s completely changed a whole lot of perspectives in my life, you know, because yeah, sometimes you think that these, the, the nuclear is, is more about being scientific, but it’s at the basis of everything that we look at, but I think I’m getting too ahead of myself. But yeah, it’s been a great transition over the past 20 years to where I am now in Johannesburg. Unfortunately, we have this electricity crisis. 

[00:05:16] Mark Hinaman: Well, you see opportunity in the crisis, right? So so you were, you were finance Identified that there’s some issues in the energy industry.

So what’s, what is 4Ava Energy and what, what do you work on? 

[00:05:28] John Clarke: So 4Ava Energy is actually, Ava is my youngest daughter’s name. And for Ava is, is forever. It’s a play on the thorium cycle. I dunno if, you know the thorium cycle, it’s like the uranium cycle. It’s the same, that whole cycle. So if, if you have that cycle going, it’s forever.

So for energy, it’s obviously, you know, little bit of wordplay. Absolutely. And so that’s where the idea came from. And last year. We went into nuclear and we realized that that is a long term type of idea rather than a short term because it’s, it’s got a little bit more red tape to it regulation and a lot more anti-nuclear to it as well, not just inside Africa, but globally.

Although we do have a fantastic history with nuclear. So, but I had to do the research and I went into it and I found out that, okay, what, what, what is gonna help us with this current electricity crisis at the end? Is it gonna be this renewable stuff that we talking about? Is it gonna be solar? Is it gonna be wind?

Is it gonna be hydro bio? You know, because at the end of the day, I’ve got kids and I don’t want them to leave South Africa or leave Africa or in, in a worse state, or me living here in a worse state than live for them. And I want, I wanna leave this world a better place for my kids, just like anybody else with, and hopefully with that comes up not so bad legacy, you know?

We’re trying to make sure that we give them the space to at least start on a level where they can also have a future. I mean, and I don’t wanna go too, too much into stats, but if you just look at, we gonna Sub-Saharan Africa is gonna have the lowest pop, the highest populous with the youngest age rate.

If you look so young. Young dynamic people, but they’ll, there’s no electricity, you know, where there won’t be electricity to speak of because it’s getting worse. What we are speaking of right now is getting worse. And we just recently, a few years ago, built our latest couple of billion rand coal stations, which are not working.

They’re pretty ineffective right now, you know? Interesting. So it’s a little bit of counterintuitive. Project management from the government side and that, but I mean, we don’t really look at the government. We focus on what we have to do as a private business, and if they come to us, which they already have, and they still are, you know, in talks.

So it’s, it’s great that they are at least open to such, to such talks, you know, which is fantastic. And that’s, that just gives us more, more, more emphasis that be in the right. 

[00:08:10] Mark Hinaman: Yeah, so 4Ava Energy, that’s, I guess right now it’s just you or a small, small team. Right. But working on we identify, sorry.

[00:08:21] John Clarke: Yeah. My look, obviously this is I got my wife that’s working with me on the admin side. I do have. Some, some SOE guys that are helping me with that and website. But what I, most of it’s outsourced and I think it’s better that way. Customer costs so much. And we work from home, which is fantastic too.

So we can do whatever. Just to get to our, our distribution side, our first, our first side of it is where we are selling portable solar devices. So that’s our, that’s our first entry into the, the energy game. Having the ability to sell these devices that can charge off grid, can charge your phone off grid and charge with a solar charge with a battery.

And those are amazing, amazing, amazing. We will end up designing and manufacturing those inside Africa, but we, we are getting supplied from, from China. Obviously they were global leaders in that space. It’s also just cheaper. So, so it nice for us to get the capital that we require. So from that perspective, everything is outsourced.

I deal with wholesale distributors. I don’t deal with like retail clients. So it makes it easier. It’s very streamlined. And I, I think I accidentally found it this way. So it’s beautifully, it’s, it’s beautifully coming together. 

[00:09:38] Mark Hinaman: So that was, that was the first tier I remember you describing multiple tiers of, of the business previously.

So you, you’ve got this first tier, which is. You, you identified a need for portable chargers and kind of because of this unstable grid situation in Africa portable chargers to sell and retail. And then you figured out, okay, well, you can buy ’em for bulk in China and sell ’em back for, to distributors in South Africa.

And that, that’s tier one, right? 

[00:10:03] John Clarke: That’s tier one. And the, the great thing about that is it’s not just because it’s electrical crisis. I mean, you, in your RV and you want a portable solar generator. There you go. Boom. Got electricity. Yep. You know, do camping. Yeah. Do in the mountain somewhere, whatever. It’s a business that can continue running.

So, irrespectively, power outage or not? So, 

[00:10:24] Mark Hinaman: and what’s, what’s the size of these systems? I mean, they’re not scale, they’re just portable, but the, you know, I’m certainly not for heat or cooking or anything but charged devices. 

[00:10:36] John Clarke: No, absolutely no. You, you can do it for cooking too. I mean, obviously you’re gonna need a bit more than a thousand WATS for that.

So you just go up. Sure. Just go up. 

[00:10:44] Mark Hinaman: So it’s size, is that a typical size? One kilowatt a thousand watts. 

[00:10:47] John Clarke: So it’s about from 1000 we can get about from five, 500 wats, which is maybe just like, okay, that’s very small, but up to 6,000. So at at 6,000 watts, you can actually do industrial scale stuff. You know, you can, you can drill.

[00:11:05] Mark Hinaman: So that’s, that’s, and is there like a battery pack associated with this? 

[00:11:09] John Clarke: Yeah, it’s, it’s actually portable, so you can carry it around like you do your luggage bag. That’s about the same. It’s about the big luggage bag. It’s about two charcoal bags with three charcoal bags. That’s what it’s. And the pricing is, and I’ve been going over the pricing and quoting and, you know, it’s, it’s, it’s beautifully marginal as well.

So, you know, it’s really lucrative. Not only because we in this situation now because we are going through a energy transition. So, so because of that people are also more user friendly and, and we don’t wanna do solid installations or permanent installations.

That’s how we went portable cuz we wanna focus on off grid and that’s our niche. And we wanna put a portable device in every home South Africa. Only we can take it from there. 

[00:11:58] Mark Hinaman: Cool. Are, are the solar panels kind of permanent? Are they, you roll ’em out or what’s Help, help them visualize. 

[00:12:04] John Clarke: You roll, you roll them out and put them in a little case under your seat, under your, and you’re good to go.

[00:12:12] Mark Hinaman: It’s truly a portable charging system that, yeah, up to six. How big’s the six kilowatt system then? You’re rolling out these solar panels, it’s the same. 

[00:12:20] John Clarke: Okay. So the, the smaller ones at hand, you can carry them in your hand and you can see my hand. Yep. You can carry them. And then the bigger ones, you can roll, you can roll like your, so that’s the size.

It’s about two or three charcoal bags, like, you know, the, the coal bags, that’s about, let’s say 43 centimeters wide with the small ones about 12 kilograms. The bigger ones can go up to 50 50 kilogram. Right. I mean it’s, it’s, it’s, it’s, they really, and we still designing them to be slicker and more beautiful and stylish, you know, so, right.

I’m, I’m excited to see what, cuz I’ve got a few ideas that I wanna, that I wanna put onto them to just make it, just make it easier for people to use without having extra accessories on it and, and wires and, and cables and that. Cause you need a cable to go into. The solar panel and into the, the portable device as well.

So I wanna get rid of those things in a way. But anyway, that’s, that’s for another discussion. You know, I’m already into looking at the design of it and how we can make it better. You know, we can make it slicker and just, just, just, just a better product. But that is definitely our key product at the moment.

And I think it will, it’s gonna definitely, it already, we, we are having. Feedback already, you know right. People are interested in, I have to send out now the, the business portfolio and profile so that people can start getting their monies in there. Because it’s a vehicle. It’s a vehicle, it’s an entry, it’s an entry port.

[00:14:00] Mark Hinaman: Okay. So yeah, I mean, you mentioned not entre you name the business 4Ava Energy after the thorium cycle, which is super cool. Meaning, yeah, long-term vision is potentially helping to start some new nuclear in South Africa. Right. Have a reliable, dependable, and expensive grid. But. Just like you said, that’s hard, that’s long term.

And so gotta pay the bills. Be between getting Yeah. To, to get from here to there. So it sounds like you’ve got this solar distribution business that you’re working on first to hopefully try and fund and set up and I mean, set up as a business and just like you said, as a vehicle to Help you get to the, the bigger goal, right?

[00:14:40] John Clarke: The bigger goal. Which is, which is massive, but it’s, it’s needed. So it’s, it’s about, so. 

[00:14:47] Mark Hinaman: So what is it, what, what is the bigger goal? 

[00:14:49] John Clarke: So the bigger goal is definitely to go with, you know, the micro reactors on a assembly line from an assembly line perspective, because this is, this is a third industrial revolution and pioneers in that space.

We’ll be able to, if we can get that that right with, with nuclear, then we pioneering at a different level, you know, so Yeah. And if we can do it in Africa where labor is cheap, you know but mm-hmm. At the same time, we’ve got the infrastructure, we’ve got, we’ve got the, the, the people also to do it, the engineers.

We’ve got the ability, and now we operate you with the, the value chain, the supply chain. And that’s where the, the nitty gritty of this whole thing actually starts. Historian comes from a, a waste a rock, you know? Right. And how do you get it into that reactor? So that’s the whole supply chain, and that’s the next big, that’s where we have to focus.

And thank goodness we’ve partnered with amazing people in the industry already. I mean, the thorium network. Has got, they have the fish and the fish and safe fish and safe group as well, which is gut scientists and engineers. And they have validated every single thing I have said and have researched on and have done since I’ve gone into the whole nuclear space for thorium.

I mean between, between thorium, uranium, plutonium, I mean, thorium is more abundant and it’s, it’s, it’s it’s waste in some of our minds that you’ve. Mind, we’ve got the waste right here. So it just made sense. It just, it just, I mean, I don’t need to be a scientist or a rocket scientist to, to, to make it make sense.

The problem is though, It’s politically not accepted. They, people talk about waste. They don’t know that waste is easy to store, and it’s been safe for, for years. They don’t know that we have submarines with nuclear in them that’s been going on for years. You know, they don’t know about Oak Ridge that and then the, the, unfortunately, the other side of it, the technology was dying.

But thank goodness it caught some wave. Somehow thorium caught a wave where everyone’s so into it now. I mean, I’m really sold, but I’m always open to other things as well, so that’s why. Sure. The first pillar is, is the portable solar generator, but I hope that makes a little bit of sense in why we had to go the thorium route.

It just makes it’s, it just makes absolute sense. And when you join networks and people that can actually validate this for you with the numbers behind it and keep showing you this stuff over and over and over again, it’s like you don’t even need to be indoctrinated. And that’s not what I’m talking about.

I’m just saying it’s, it’s so obvious. And if we don’t wake up we’ll be able to even miss this way. You know? And I’m hoping that, I’m hoping that people from the US will be able to use their, their capital to invest into businesses like 4Ava Energy so we can get going, you know? Right. And right. Yeah.

And from, 

[00:17:52] Mark Hinaman: so what’s, what’s, what’s the need, John? I mean, in, in South Africa, I mean, we already mentioned the, the, the grid’s unstable, but help give us a little bit more color. What. Is the grid unstable? Why, why are there power outages frequently? And I mean, but yeah, just paint, paint the picture for us.

Where’s the electricity come from? 

[00:18:12] John Clarke: Yeah, it’s, it’s a variety of factors. Look, we, from a nuclear perspective, we, it it to our grid. It’s only 2% that it adds to a grid. And we only add 

[00:18:24] Mark Hinaman: the only current or country in Africa that actually has nuclear, right? But it’s only 2% still. So lots of room for growth.

[00:18:34] John Clarke: So I mean, as if you need nuclear as a baseline energy, you can’t use, you can’t use hydro, solar or windfall. Solar, I think just takes too much space and it’s ugly, you know, it just looks ugly. A wind is just, it’s just too much. It’s just too much. Stuff you gotta put in there to make this stuff. And then it’s not eco-friendly in the end of the day as well.

So nuclear’s got all of that, and we can argue about waste later, but right now we need the energy. And it, yes, it’s not gonna be built overnight, but apparently China can bolt in within 24 months. So somewhere along the line we have to, we have to start building that so we, it’s not just lucrative from an economic per.

It’s also good for the citizens, also economically better, socially good. I mean, here we have this pandemic and it, now let’s go back to, to why the, the, the issue is it’s, it’s a variety of factors. It’s not just maintenance, it’s also a lack of, lack of leadership because there’s a consistent change of, of personnel.

So there’s not a consistency in terms of how we can, because it’s a state owned So it’s ran by the state. 

[00:19:45] Mark Hinaman: Okay, so nuclear state, state, run in South Africa. 

[00:19:48] John Clarke: Yeah. So it’s ran by Escom, which is ran by the state. But Escom has also got Shares out of it too. Other entities are offshore and, you know, they are actually running the, the, the Berg mine, the Kuber nuclear Power Station itself. So that’s quite a complicated structure. Not really complicated, but it’s not straight, it’s not a straight. Thing, you know, because obviously you have to have some shareholders.

It’s, it was a massive thing. It was an amazing, an amazing accomplishment for Africans, for Africa to have had that. And then we have other research reactors as well in the country that are doing other things as well. But that is the only one currently is up in, in Egypt. Egypt. They are looking at more in Nigeria and.

There are, it’s a lot of research reactors, but it’s great. And it, the more the mayor, but just the fact that there’s only, there’s only one in Africa. It’s economically viable. But so we also have sabotage that we have to look at from, from a political perspective as well.

It’s not something that I can hide away. It’s something that is the, you know, the also we have to limit our coal usage as well to comply with, with accord. So it’s everything that, that, it’s a variety of things that are just dis culminated into having to spread the, the load evenly amongst each regions so that it, the, the grids are not stuck and overloaded and obviously completely shut down a blow up or whatever the worst case scenario.


[00:21:24] Mark Hinaman: Is there load shedding that occurs? I mean, like, I’m, I’m still, 

[00:21:29] John Clarke: yes. 

[00:21:29] Mark Hinaman: Yeah. Or, or is it a distribution problem for power outages or is it the, the, you know, the coal, they’re not turning coal on fast enough for they, they don’t have enough generation to meet demand. You could 

[00:21:42] John Clarke: say it’s all of that.

At most, 

[00:21:44] Mark Hinaman: it’s all of it. So it’s, it’s challenging but to be, to be a utility, right? 

[00:21:49] John Clarke: There’s even a problem here even, but that’s just horrible project management. There’s not consistency within that. I think that’s just, you know, if say thank goodness we’ve got, we. We’ve got, and this is probably, this is the problem.

It there isn’t consistency in the decision that has been made. So now you get one person that’s making decisions in the next four years is different decision getting made and it’s politically, it’s just a mess. So, I mean the, even the cold, the, the, the, the quality cold that the, the mind that the the power stations are getting is not great at all.

They’re not even well transported. And when it’s we weather like. The cold gets weak, so. I mean, just think about that. Now you’re calls with how you going? There’s no storage for the, that’s another management. The, the culture is also horrible. They’re not winning. It’s not a winning culture. It’s not you know, it’s not, let’s get up and go, let’s make this happen.

Let’s the culture’s flat and dow let’s not, there’s nothing of it’s, I’m here to do my job getting ready and going. That’s, that’s, so it’s. It’s a whole, it, it’s a good thing for me because that means sure, we, we, we, we become slick and better and they have to be able to come to us. And if that doesn’t happen, we export to other countries.

And, you know, Africa is a massive place with a massive problem with probably the same issues that we had. We Malawi, for example, they only have a 12% electricity over there, if we can look at that too, at a later stage. You know, for now, you know I think we try here and we see how far we can get there.

And I mean, I think if you look at other emerging markets, south Africa’s probably the best one to invest in. Like really it’s, it’s, it’s better than China and better than Russia, better than Brazil, better than India. You know, so South Africa 

[00:23:46] Mark Hinaman: cost entry point. Yeah. 

[00:23:49] John Clarke: Good infrastructure. It’s got point to C ports.

I mean, politically yeah, we a little bit unstable and crime is high, but that’s only because we have poverty. You know what? Desperation makes people do stupid things. And if we can already curb that by giving people the ability to get out of, out of, out of that, through alleviating the energy poverty.

Already. We on the right, we on the right direction, and I think this is where our, our vision came together. Our came together. 

[00:24:23] Mark Hinaman: So would you say the public opinion is positive or for, certainly for more energy in South Africa, but what about for nuclear? 

[00:24:34] John Clarke: I think it’s, it’s definitely getting positive. A good thing when people see the.

Then they automatically just switch. It’s just that simple. 

[00:24:42] Mark Hinaman: Yeah. So they’re like, this is, this is, this makes sense. Show us the math. Oh, you show us the math. Oh, it’s much more, much better than everything else, though. Yeah, 

[00:24:50] John Clarke: The thing is there’s not many people that are pushing forward, but now there’s a couple of entrepreneurs that I’m loving and, you know, we all collaborating to try and push, so it’s about education as well. So we educating people on nuclear and, the thorium cycle. And I tell people, and I, I have it even on my, my profile pictures. I speak about the thorium, I speak about us having the ability take the stuff, put it through the plasma, put it through the reactor, you know, which is our third phase plan. So it’s incredible that it’s here and we have the ability to change people’s lives, and it takes this much for a thousand lives, right?

[00:25:28] Mark Hinaman: I appreciate thorium also as a resource and it makes a ton of sense. There’s several other reactor designs and vendors though internationally that would certainly probably be happy to come and step in and build reactors in South Africa.

Are there certain countries that You think South Africa would be more likely to partner with? Or other technologies that I mean you mentioned China could build plant in two years, right? Yeah. And I, and I, I, I think especially for Americans, we can be quite arrogant and think, well, yeah, everyone’s just gonna wanna buy our stuff and we’ll just export it.

But I don’t I don’t know that that’s always true. So I’m curious on your perspective. 

[00:26:07] John Clarke: Well, I definitely see. That’s why we need the us cuz the US says, I mean, 50 years ago already they’ve been doing Martin salt thorium reactors there at Oaks. So Right. And unfortunately the technology was almost lost.

That, that was, that was the most shocking thing. If there wasn’t a few engineers of scientists that picked it up, we would’ve not been probably sticking because it’s the mountain. thorium reactor that is what makes it. And I mean, yes, there’s, there’s, there’s various others. There’s people, there’s, there’s liquid, you know, if you look at reactors itself.

But I think for me, because it’s here and we don’t have to go anywhere else to find it, 

[00:26:53] Mark Hinaman: We can being the, the resources present and you can use the fuel that you know that you have and yeah, 

[00:27:00] John Clarke: the fuel is, the fuel is in abundance. It’s ready and we know, we know what it can do because of the research that’s been done already.

And Sure. What’s fantastic about it, now we’ve got new gen reactors. We combine that digitally in a system where you don’t, there’s no. Interaction. You know, I mean, human interaction is on and off and monitoring the pipes and stuff, those kind of things. Obvious, but we are not talking. It’s, it runs itself.

So that’s the beauty about it. You know, it’s, that’s, yes, it costs a lot in the front, but I think that upfront cost is nothing compared to the human cost that we are losing this, the social impact that we are. With, with putting, and yes, we have to start with small reactors. And the small reactors is the way to get to the big reactor where we can have full base load for the whole country.

So, and maybe it’s a great thing that I started with the portable solar generators because, It’s kind of a small little reaction. 

[00:28:04] Mark Hinaman: Understand the energy market, right? Yeah. You’ve got energy distribution system. Yeah. 

[00:28:09] John Clarke: Mark, this all this all just happened to fall on me. It’s just happened to all just fall on me and become a priority because of how it’s.

Fell and fell upon me. So I haven’t, I didn’t envision this to happen to me, so it just happened to become my, my thing that I have to do and have to see through, you know, I, and otherwise my kids are gonna have a worse future and I don’t want that to happen, so. Right. 

[00:28:38] Mark Hinaman: There’s an announcement recently about some financial support from several countries for South Africa.

Like. Pretty, pretty sizable investment. Can, can you comment on that? 

[00:28:49] John Clarke: Oh, there’s, there’s quite a few actually. I mean, okay. Let’s just go back to our political situation and why our, our Sure. Our berg isn’t the stations are not running well, is also because. During Covid, they, we also got a lot of funding and aid, but most of that aid went into the pockets of like the government screens and whatever.

And there’s a whole lot of corruption, a whole lot of cases that are publicly known already, you know, which, it’s just, it’s so the same thing is gonna happen. So unless these complete transparency with that capital and we know exactly what we, what’s happening, that’s not gonna work. So you can put.

Trillions into South Africa, throughout, through our government, you know? But unless we can see as the public way in what’s happening, it’s not gonna happen because it’s gonna just end like, you know. So that’s my opinion. 

[00:29:46] Mark Hinaman: So there’s not, there’s not a good level or high level of transparency for government funding or?

[00:29:52] John Clarke: No, the transparency is, okay. It’s my cousin that I’ve given the contract to. I mean, that’s a nepotism more than transparency, but it’s transparent about the nepotism. So

[00:30:06] Mark Hinaman: fair. 

[00:30:07] John Clarke: So, so that’s why I don’t wanna deal with the government at all because there’s, there’s just a, it’s just and I, the only reason how I deal with them is everything’s open. If that’s, if that’s how we, if, if that’s not how it’s gonna be, then I’m not gonna be dealing with it unless, cause remember, Just going back to the, the second phase of us getting our supply chain right with the thorium network in Victoria is there are a lot of rare earth elements and rare earth elements has also a military side of it, a medical side.

So those things that we extract and can help the government too, we can help them from a military advanced perspective, from a reactor perspective, nuclear perspective, a whole lot of isotopes that we, that we busy. Extracting as well. So there’s, there’s, there’s, there’s so much more for them to gain than, than, than to lose it.

They don’t work with us in a open, transparent, in a way that we put those, those points on the table. If they, if not, then it’s gonna be more difficult to, to work with, with, for ever energy, for example, you know? Gotcha. But so what, what are, but we will have the capital and investors behind us, so there inevitably will have to, because we need that baseload of.

And we need nuclear as part of our, our, our, our energy mix moving forward. I respect. So whether, whether it’s gonna be me or another private company, they’re gonna have to, but we will, we’ll continue striving towards that worth. 

[00:31:38] Mark Hinaman: So what, what would a private company be doing? I mean, it, it. If you had a reactor vendor that wanted to come and build a reactor in South Africa, like flag, right fly energy, their Thorium molten salt reactor if they wanted to come and build a system in South Africa, what would that look like?

[00:31:57] John Clarke: So at the moment, we actually our present has declared a state of emergency for the electricity. So it would actually be the best time to say, okay, let’s put a, let’s put a proposal forward so that, cause that means the red tech’s cut, you know? Yeah. There’s, there’s, there’s, there’s, right now is the best time to actually say, look, let’s, let’s, let’s go, let’s, let’s, let’s, let’s see if we can get the, the proposal sent through through government agency.

And see if they’ll, they’ll run through the, the tender. And by this we can also notice the transparency, you know, because they be part of that process. So, sure. It’s a kinda now a kinda win thing. I don’t wanna say never, but win then thing win next. When is the next place time. 

[00:32:44] Mark Hinaman: So, but I mean that you have to have approval from the government to build a new system.

Right. But the state of emergency could, could expedite that process. Yep. Expedite, kinda why you’re saying now is, now is more ideal, right? 

[00:32:58] John Clarke: Yes, yes. It could expedite the process big because everything is, is off the, is all the red tapes gone basically? Regulation is basically gone. Everything is gone.

You need to now put your proposal forward so that government can say, okay, well we have to, cause we, we, in a state of crisis, we in emergency crisis. 

[00:33:19] Mark Hinaman: Yeah, well, we can protect against the radiation from the nuclear power plant. And we can have power, right? 

[00:33:28] John Clarke: Yeah. And I mean, radiation is such a thing that people get so scared about, but radiation is actually required in our bodies.

It’s been scientifically proven. You know, that we need that. And I mean, we’ve got radiation in beer and bananas, so, so go check up that, you know, just for fun. So we’ve got in, we’ve even got it on some of our beaches here in South Epic because we’ve got. So at Manai, if you, if you, if you actually put manai through a plasma, you get rare earth elements and part of rare earth elements is historian.


[00:34:02] Mark Hinaman: I love it. So I mean, you mentioned a couple times Labor’s inexpensive in South Africa, great emerging market, but there, there’s a couple of probably big issues. Scare investors, which, you know, government corruption is always terrifying for investors. And the kinda the workforce, you said the, sometimes there can be an apathetic attitude that you, that you alluded to in poor project management.

How does that get fixed or how do those problems get fixed? 

[00:34:31] John Clarke: So it’s also just, you know, from a, from a South African perspective, it’s, it’s gonna have to. Like we’ve gotta, we, besides the, and sorry to get away from that question, but just to give you some context is Sure. We’ve got a billing crisis in Johannesburg, for example where you can get charged estimated prices on your electricity usage, but you are using solar and you’re off the.

So you get charged irrespective whether you or under. Cause they don’t know what’s going on unless they go physically and go. So imagine the how much you can steal from that. You know how much, and that’s what’s happening. So people, people are menting the system looking for loopholes. It’s the same thing with water.

What’s another great thing, just a side note and on nuclear is desalination becomes a non-issue. You. So that’s, that’s water for you. The fresh, clean water given by nuclear every day of the, every day of the year. So there you happy there. There you go. People are happy with that too. So it’s just, we, we, we have to, then we have to scrap whatever systems we have at the moment.

And that’s from a government perspective. Now, from a private perspective, I think it would be better. How are we going into this is systematic, you know, we are not just going into it ly because we know what is happening at the moment. So until they shake up you know but by that time, hopefully we would’ve had enough capitals for them to, to realize, hey, you know, we actually impact, I think we’ll have a revolt in any case, if that doesn’t happen, because we need, we need, not the revolt, but we need the, the energy is so bad, so bad right now, and it’s gonna get worse.

If we don’t, if we don’t transition, but everything in terms of that, that graph is coming together nicely. So a, as much as it’s a bad graph, that hockey stick graph that we see, everything help us, like my background as well, it’s that that graph that we see is everything is that way because of what’s happening.

But at least it’s a third industrial revolution that goes with that growth for us in, in Sub-Saharan. Inside Africa specifically, the nuclear will help us with our base load. And if we, if we don’t already get the regulation, everything, we have got Nexar, which is our regulator that works with government, but we do have, we do have people that understand what nuclear’s about.

So, For them. And we’ve been speaking to Mintech, which is another, another resource that we have as well inside Africa that does plasma rare earth elements. So really there’s interest. That’s what I was talking to you about earlier. So the government’s not, they’re not that ignorant, but Sure. At the same time, there’s a lot more change that has to happen.

And it starts at the, at like zero at the bottom, like with everything. So the building issue, the reason why I brought that up is, If that is an issue, how, how are you gonna manage a big grid if you can’t get your billing sorted out? Right. You know, you can’t get your simple billing. You now they wanna sell they wanna sell, they wanna make smart homes and sell kilowatts back into the grid.

But you can’t even, you can’t even monitor the grid to start it. So how are you gonna, so, 

[00:38:01] Mark Hinaman: so it’s a measurement problem. The, the age old saying, right, you. Manage what you can measure. And if you can’t measure it, then it’s a management problem. Manage. 

[00:38:10] John Clarke: It’s a management problem. Cause we’ve got the computers to measure.

So it’s a management problem. You know? I mean, I see we’ve got AI and stuff to do. All that stuff was much simpler. You know, we don’t have to yet human interaction at all with this stuff, you know? It, it has to happen digitally. And that’s probably part of this transition that we are in right now as well, you know, and that’s why I’m, I’m speaking about that hockey stick graph because it’s part of that.

It’s, it’s all part. 

[00:38:35] Mark Hinaman: And when you say that graph, I mean it’s the growth that you see growth potential in South Africa. What’s getting measured on the hockey stick craft? 

[00:38:46] John Clarke: Basically if you look at, let’s, let’s look at where Beijing. Right? Sure. And, and what happened when their population grew and what happened to Beijing and, and now let’s go to India.

Demographics, let’s go to India. What happened to India? What happened to it’s just you can just see that the so af South Africa and exec exactly on the same trajectory. It might take us little bit longer because our populace is, is still getting there. We 

[00:39:17] Mark Hinaman: definitely, yeah. Maybe not growing as fast, but certainly growing.


[00:39:21] John Clarke: There you go. So, and I mean by, by what’s 2050? We’ll, already we, we would, I mean, Nigeria will be off the maps of the charts, so, and that’s, that’s North Africa, but I mean, South Africa, we also, that, that, and that’s the problem. That’s the, the what we started with by saying. Hopefully we’ll be able to have the energy to, to help that popule of people and that young dynamic popule of people talk about forever.

Here. Just walked into, into the room. This is Ava. Hello, Eva. 

[00:40:02] Mark Hinaman: Hello at that. 

[00:40:04] John Clarke: Who are you?

[00:40:08] Mark Hinaman: Hi. She’s shy. All good. No worries. Please. She 

[00:40:13] John Clarke: just came from school, so, just kidding. I’m sad. Bye-bye. 

[00:40:18] Mark Hinaman: There you go. That’s, that’s the future, future of energy generation right there, right? Yeah. Yep. Okay. So you’d mentioned investment several times. what does it look like for somebody to come in and try and invest and participate in projects in South Africa?


[00:40:38] John Clarke: I mean, it really depends on, Investment. What, what you’re looking for. I mean, for example, I can only talk about 4Ava Energy. 

We’re looking to buy more of our, our portable solar devices so that we can, we can make profit from those, those So you can scale faster. Yeah. So we can move up whilst, but right now we have to do proposals to government because it’s the state of emergencies that we can try and see if we can help with a nuclear situation as well with our power situation with nuclear as our solution.

So, gotcha. Right now we actually have the perfect opportunity to speak and be closer to, to government than ever before. Although like I. There are conditions to when we wanna work with them and how, but from an investment perspective, it’s you, you have to put it into the business, into a private entity, you know, because then you have more control, not control, but you have, you get statements back, you know?

[00:41:35] Mark Hinaman: Sure, yeah. Certainly you have control. I it’s your, it’s your business that’s called ownership. 

[00:41:40] John Clarke: Yes. And, and I mean, it’s, it’s, what’s the, the great thing. Thinking about buying in bulk and selling, selling at retail prices is, is obvious, you know, so we, we will be profitable and highly so within the, within the next 12 months.

So, and we’ll be able to share those numbers with our investors so that they can see, and then, then they can go to nuclear because the entry point, you know, that’s, that’s a great point to you. It’s also like a piloting. Entry point to see and is this, can we do this? You know, and it’s sure. I mean, to be honest, like 2 million is, is peanuts inside, inside Africa, it’s peanuts, you know, so, For, and, and I’ve seen 16, 14 year olds on TikTok with from the US that are making billions.

So they need to come over and put their cashier and not stop wasting it on stupid things over there. And, you know, buying NFTs and crashing coins and, Cryptocurrency, 

[00:42:49] Mark Hinaman: you mean? There’s an opportunity to invest in a, a developing nation that needs real hardware and infrastructure that can better human lives immediately rather than invest in digital currency.

Yeah. Okay. Perhaps I’m biased, but I I see the value 

[00:43:05] John Clarke: changing lives, leaving a legacy. I mean, we, yes. The one thing that I am afraid of is unintended consequences because, We don’t know what nuclear necessarily has in store for us, and thank goodness the thorium cycle is a non-proliferative proliferation boon to it because it cannot be turned into a nuclear weapon at all.

And with the reactor technology, which is fantastic it definitely cannot be turned into plutonium or any other uranium for, for, for, for weapons, you know, it freezes or it, or shuts down. So that’s, that’s, that’s, that’s the system from the Martin Salt thorium perspective, and I like that system. 

[00:43:48] Mark Hinaman: Do, do you have any estimate on how much capital will be required to build one of these systems to get started?

[00:43:55] John Clarke: Yeah, it’s a large capital. I mean, I was looking at it’s a billion dollars a year for 10 years return after 14, you know, so it’s quite substantial and investors get so afraid when they hear me say that. 

[00:44:11] Mark Hinaman: So a billion dollars a year for 10 years that, yeah, that’s huge.

I don’t know who, I don’t know who would buy that. 

[00:44:21] John Clarke: They, it’s, it’s, but look, there’s money, there’s are treasuries worth 3 trillion, you know, not that they can put the cash right there. I just told you about TikTok billionaires that, I mean, it’s not that difficult to get, honestly, it’s not.

So the, the point is we need to, It’s not that difficult. It’s a big number and it makes people scared. But the long term effect of it and what it has, the social aspect of it is, is no economics that can we have to go to space. The space technology that comes with this. So true. Billion dollars a year for 10 years is nothing, you know, it’s nothing.

If you look at what if we go up to space first and we start innovating on gravity technology, where we can do stuff in that perspective. For example, we already winning on another, people are doing it already. US is obviously leading with that. Russia has been leading with that. China is doing it already, you know, so, but we need competitive and it’s cheap right now.

Here you actually doing some social good and right. And we gonna strive to get there. We’re not here to fail. We’re here to win and we’re here to make sure that we get this accomplished.

So we are not gonna rest our laurels and not make it happen. You know? And you can create a consortium, you can get credit. If you need boost in terms of the numbers, we can put the numbers down and you can see what the effects of it would be, not just from an economic perspective,

[00:45:55] Mark Hinaman: I guess helps give us perspective.

How big, what kind of generation facility would that be then? For billion dollars a year? 

[00:46:01] John Clarke: Yeah. So you see that’s, that’s where the, the, the big difference comes in because after that 14 years you have a math, you have almost 10 reactors. Because you can’t build, you can’t build. And like what size reactors? We’re looking at the average size reactors as it is the Gen four X as it is at the moment.

[00:46:21] Mark Hinaman: So it’s so like gig gigawatt, size reactors. Right. 

[00:46:23] John Clarke: Remember that? I’m, I’m hoping, I’m hoping we can innovate better on the size of those things. You know, I’m hoping that we can do better because there are material science that have become better, especially for issues like corrosion. So I’m hoping we can.

On, we can bring the price down dramatically. But I wanna, 

[00:46:43] Mark Hinaman: so sorry, I, I guess I was, I was thinking cuz you said originally you start small, they go big. And so when you said billion dollars, I was like, is he talking about for micro reactors or the SMRs? No, no, but, but if it’s, No, those, that’s for a gigawatt then that’s actually pretty cheap.

Yeah, right. Meaning like, we just spent 30 billion or 33 or whatever building gigawatt size reactors in the us. So We’ll if we could build one for a 30th of the cost in South Africa. Thank you then. Yeah. Looks great. So 

[00:47:15] John Clarke: thank you. Yes, it’s, it’s your bigger reactors, but it takes over a period of time and.

We could, we could. 

[00:47:20] Mark Hinaman: So what if somebody wanted to step in and, and like build like a 10 to 20 megawatt reactor, like the last energy guys are deploying, or you know, there’s a bunch of micro reactors that that’s could step in and, you know 

[00:47:34] John Clarke: Yeah, that’s, that’s exactly what we want. I mean, that, that would really cut our, that would push our, our supply right up to where we need it to be.

So, right. You know, immediately that would, that would like solve our problem basically. Like that boom, problem solved, you know, and yes, the reactors that we are looking at as long term and that, and it, we could cut it down from 10 to six years, we could do that. But we wanna innovate better with the material technologies that we have currently and we can see and make a big difference.

You know, we have to do a bit of research and development and that’s, it, but it’s more, sounds more, it’s a bit more, but it’s peanuts to, to offshore currency right now. I mean, you guys are almost at 18 to the end right now, so that’s, you have to mark. 

[00:48:25] Mark Hinaman: It’s like, yeah. So I guess that’s, that’s another good clear clarification.

Is that a billion south African dollars Iran, or is it a billion US dollars? 

[00:48:32] John Clarke: No, it’s us. It’s US dollars. It’s US dollars. 

[00:48:36] Mark Hinaman: Sure. 

[00:48:37] John Clarke: I have to pay, we have to pay suppliers and people all from all over the world in, in your current US currency, you know, so, We have to work, you know, but I mean, in inside Africa, things will be a lot better.

So we’ll manage, we’ll be able to manage that efficiently, which is another great thing. So I’m excited about that. You know, really excited to see that to 


[00:48:58] Mark Hinaman: John, I I love your enthusiasm. You’ve, we’ve had a lot of Discussions so far, and we’re coming up on our time, but I wanna give you a kinda last word to give us one more chance to say where, where this is going and what gives you hope.

[00:49:13] John Clarke: Yeah, it’s, people like me and other savvy entre entrepreneurs that actually are into this space right now that are actually pushing this. And I’m hoping that, I’m hoping that they could actually. And, and people like you, mark and like around the globe, you know, that are willing to actually open up, up minds and not be so close minded. And, and I think it’s, like I said, part of that same graph, it might be a thing, you know, we all moving in that direction? Not spiritually, culturally, you know, I mean, I started doing some meditation myself as well, you know, to stop being so excited about this stuff. And it’s ingrained and when you can see the obvious outcome in the light at the end of the tunnel, light at the end of the tunnel.

You, you just have to push that way, you know? And for me, yeah, I think just waking up every day, having to look at my kids and knowing that we have to get this done just motivates me even more. So. And the networks that I’ve already created over the past couple of months is just been amazing.

I mean, the interest people that understand the, the economics behind. Are really grasping it, you know, and they, they can see, okay, look, we just need the vehicle. So we 4Ava Energy and other businesses are creating that vehicle for everybody to put their cash in, put their capital in, do good, also get some capital back, and retire, retire earlier, wealthy, you know?

So that’s, yeah. I think at the end of the day, if you put all those lovely things together, you get a, a lovely package. Which is, which is good on social, good on governance. You know good on the, good on your economics. And I think once we build it and build the team even better, you know, cause I, I really want to build a great team as well behind 4Ava Energy.

We still young, we only a startup, you know, so Sure. That’s why we have to, we try and we wanna be leaders in the market, especially with the, we wanna establish our brand with the portable solar generators. Make sure that we get. Like that niche and our belt and hopefully that sector can move on as we focus on the bigger things, you know?

So, yep. We gotta keep on working. And that’s all I can say. All I can do. 

[00:51:30] Mark Hinaman: I like that. That’s a great place to leave it, John Clark. Appreciate it. Thanks so much. 

[00:51:34] John Clarke: So much, mark. All the best. And we’ll see each other soon. Okay.

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