South Africa’s energy response: the Integrated Resource Plan

Date:22 October 2019 Author: Kyro Mitchell Tags:, , , , ,

South Africans are no strangers to power struggles, both political and electrical and often these are related. For 2019, the South African government have introduced the Integrated Resource Plan, in an attempt to rectify the country’s current energy concerns.

What is the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP)?
According to the South African government, the IRP is an electrical infrastructure development plan based on the least cost-effective electrical supply and demand balance. It intends to identify investments in the electricity sector that allowed the country to meet the projected demand with minimum cost to the country. The IRP is not a short or medium-term plan, instead, it is a plan that directs the expansion of electricity supply over a given period of time.

Emphasis on Wind Power.
According to the initial IRP draft released in 2018, wind power was only supposed to contribute to around 13% of South Africas electricity by 2030. However, that number has been increased to more than 18% in the latest IRP announcement on this month. In total, the government expects 20.4GW of power to be generated from from renewable resources. Wind power will be making up the bulk of that figure, despite the fact that solar power is a the cheaper method of renewable energy production.

The head of capital marketers at Intellidex, Peter Attard Montalto said, “crucially the plan says nothing on who should undertake the new renewables.” Hinting at the possibility that Eskom might take a large chunk of the 20.4GW of renewable power to keep their monopoly in the electrical sector.

Coal energy
The IRP intends on decreasing our dependency on coal powered factories by 2030. Currently, coal powered plants generate 77% of all power in South Africa. The government intends on lowing that number to around 60% by 2030.

While speaking at a briefing on the electricity Blueprint on Friday, Mantashe said, “coal will continue to play a significant role in electricity generation as the country has the resource in abundance,”

Nuclear reactors planned?
According to the IRP, Government will begin preparations for a small scale nuclear build project “at a pace and scale that the country can afford”. The IRP claims that constructing a smaller nuclear power plant will be a more manageable investment then committing to a large-scale nuclear power plant. However, the government acknowledge that it could take more than 10 years to construct. Smaller scale nuclear power plants designs have already been approved by governments in China, Russia, and in the US. The design would only take up 1% of space that a regular nuclear power plant would take up. However, according to a Bloomberg report, small scale reactors are still 8 years away.

Koeberg nuclear Plant will keep its doors open.
The government have made the decision to increase the operating life the Koeberg nuclear power plant due to the fact that it is one of South Africas best performing power plants.

Energy storage for the future.
Energy storage for future use is a crucial element for all South Africans, especially with the introduction of new solar and wind farms. The IRP identified this storage problem and made previsions for the development of new storage technologies, which include flywheel storage, and hydrogen full cells. Eskom have also prepared to implement an energy storage-technology based around batteries.


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