Department of Mineral Resources and Energy
18 October 2019
The Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2019 has been released.
The mineral resources and energy department published the IRP in Government Gazette 42778.
The IRP, South Africa’s policy blueprint for the power sector, was drawn up in conjunction with experts from industry and academia.
It was published for comment at the end of August 2018.
Cabinet approved the IRP for promulgation at its latest meeting this week.
The cabinet statement describes the IRP 2019 as proposing “nine interventions to ensure the country responds to the energy needs for the next decade. The interventions draw from the current baseline of the demand and supply of the country’s energy and the country’s international obligations to the minimum emission standards. The plan remains within the policy framework of pursuing a diversified energy mix that reduces reliance on a single or few primary energy sources. It will be revised in line with the changing energy sector environment”.
According to the introduction, certain capacity developments have taken place that necessitated a review and update of the IRP.
Included in the developments was the procurement of a total 6 422 MW under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme (REIPPP) with 3 876 MW operational and made available to the grid; the commissioning by IPPs of 1 005 MW from two Open Cycle Gas Turbine peaking plants; the commissioning of 1 332 MW of Ingula pumped storage, 1 588 MW of Medupi, 800 MW of Kusile and 100MW of Sere Wind Farm under the Eskom build programme; 18 000MW of new generation capacity committed to and the changing of key assumptions including the electricity demand projection, Eskom’s existing plant performance, as well as new technology costs.
Policy positions include immediately initiating a medium-term power purchase programme to assist with creating reserve capacity needed to complement Eskom’s declining plant performance and to reduce the utilisation of diesel generators; extend Koeberg power plant design life by 20 years by immediately undertaking required technical and regulatory work; support Eskom financially and legally to comply with MES over time; convene a team to put together a “just transition” plan within a year, in consultation with all social partners; retain the current annual build limits on renewables (wind and PV) pending the report on a just transition; to not sterilise the development of coal resources for power generation; convert all diesel-fired power plants (Peakers) to gas to develop gas infrastructure; start the nuclear build programme immediately to the extent of 2 500MW and support strategic power projects in neighbouring countries that enable the development of cross-border transmission infrastructure needed for the regional power pool.
In terms of the energy mix, the IRP confirms that coal will continue to play a significant role in electricity generation in South Africa due to it being the largest base of the installed generation capacity; the life of Koeberg is to be extended and the nuclear power programme is to be expanded; exploration to assess the size of local recoverable shale and coastal gas to be speeded up; solar PV, wind and CSP with storage present an opportunity to diversify the electricity mix, to produce distributed generation and provide off-grid electricity and energy storage technologies can assist with storage capacity.