On Tuesday 22 November 2016, the Department of Energy (DoE), in a joint sitting with Eskom unveiled the draft assumptions and base case scenario for the long-awaited draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) documents. These were gazetted on Friday, 25 November 2016 for public comment and engagement, with consultations due to close in February 2017. Further to this publication, the DoE has this week set aside dates for further consultations to be held during January and February, and has extended the public comment and engagement period to 31 March 2017.

NUCLEAR

The government had previously indicated in the 2010 IRP that nuclear would come on stream in 2023, generating 9 600 MW (in terms of a section 34 determination under the Electricity Regulation Act), at costs upwards of $37 billion. This timeline has now potentially been pushed back by the draft assumptions and base case scenario. According to the draft base case scenario, 1 359 MW of new nuclear capacity would come on stream in 2037, totalling 20 385 MW by 2050. This ties in with the complete schedule of decommissioning dates for Eskom plants, which sees only the Majuba and Kendal plants not in the process of being decommissioned by 2037.

The DoE has, however, outlined two alternative scenarios that make different assumptions about costs, carbon emissions and the nation’s ability to generate additional renewable energy resulting in both higher (25 821 MW) and lower (5 436 MW) nuclear power capacity.

During the media briefing, Eskom clarified that the nuclear power plants would need to start being built in 2027 to meet the first proposed deadline of 2037. The DoE has subsequently confirmed Eskom as the procurer of the nuclear new build programme (NNBP) by way of a section 34 determination under the Electricity Regulation Act.  In addition, on 20 December 2016, Eskom issued a request for information (RFI) in respect of the NNBP. In this regard, please see the following link. Interestingly, the RFI is aligned with the 2010 IRP, and not the IRP currently under review.

COAL

Although the draft IRP sets out a significantly reduced coal requirement compared to the 2010 IRP, coal and nuclear energy, will still be the principle sources for base load energy . The draft IRP sets aside 15 000 MW of coal by 2050. This includes the 6 250 MW (2 500 MW local, and 3750 cross-boarder) already allocated to coal in terms of Ministerial Determinations.

The increase in coal capacity will however need to be balanced against South Africa’s obligations under the Paris Agreement, and it commitment to cleaner energy sources.

GAS

The DoE noted that going forward, it is envisaged that gas and renewables will form the biggest portion of installed capacity by 2050. The draft IRP has allocated 35 292 MW to gas power. This includes the 3 726 MW already allocated to gas in terms of the Ministerial Determination.

The IRP relies heavily on gas as a “base” power source, although the DoE advised that they do not consider gas as base-load power.

RENEWABLE ENERGY

By 2050, the draft IRP proposes:

  • 37 400 MW of wind;
  • 17 600 MW of solar PV; and
  • 2 500 MW of Inga Hydro.

This is in additional to the 14725 MW already allocated to Renewable Energy Sources (comprising of solar PV: 6 225 MW, wind: 6 360 MW, CSP: 1 200 MW, small hydro: 195 MW, landfill gas: 25 MW, biomass: 210 MW, biogas: 110 MW and the small scale renewable energy programme: 400 MW. This is excluding the 2 609 MW allocated to imported hydro.). The drafts make no provision for concentrated solar power.

PROPOSED ENERGY MIX

It is important to note that the IRP and IEP are draft documents, and the DoE has indicated that it still has various other factors which it would like to consider before finalising both the IRP and IEP, which factors include, but not limited to, the following:

  • Carbon budget as an instrument to reduce GHG emission
  • Enhanced energy efficiency
  • Low Eskom plant performance
  • Regional options (Hydro, Gas)
  • Indigenous Gas
  • Un-constrained Renewable Energy