Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Gwede Mantashe, has finally released it’s much awaited IRP (Integrated Resource Plan) on Friday past.
So if you’re not already aware of this new energy plan, let’s unpack it a little bit. The policy includes some surprising interventions. Some of these notable interventions include the following:
Currently, in terms of the total energy generation in South Africa, coal accounts for 77% of that across all it’s coal plants. According to the IRP, the projection is that by the year 2030, this percentage would have been reduced to somewhere in the region of 60% of all energy production in the country. So still heavily dependent on coal fired plants which environmentalist are especially not pleased about.
Despite coal still playing a significant role in energy generation, there is space for a shift towards renewables. According to the IRP, government expects to hike the contribution made to the grid by wind generated energy infrastructures. In the initial draft version of the IRP, released last year, wind generated energy was only supposed to deliver 13% of SA’s electricity by 2030– this has now been increased to more than 18%.
By 2030, solar will supply 7% of electricity. Hydro plants will contribute 8%, nuclear 4.5% and the rest from gas and diesel.
New Coal Plants
The newly released IRP indicates that government notes a business case for the construction of modular and smaller power plants producing between 300mw and 600mw. Particularly in the face of some of the current fleet of power plants being decommissioned in the coming years. Nuclear is very expensive at commissioning and at decommissioning, but when it is operational it is “most reliable and cost effective,” Mantashe told journalists on Friday.
Nuclear reactors planned?
Montalto said that new nuclear capacity does not come onstream before 2030, but discussion of work to start on scoping new nuclear is in the plan for coming on grid beyond 2030.
The IRP argued that smaller nuclear plants will be easier managed investments when compared to large-scale projects. But government acknowledges that these could take more than 10 years to construct, and no additional nuclear power is set to come online before 2030.