South Africans to have their say on energy matters

Pretoria - The public now has the opportunity to voice their input on the country's energy mix with the release of the draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).

The Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) on Energy said the IRP 2010, which is the country's electricity master plan, will be released for public comment today.

The IRP is the country's 20-year electricity plan, which aims to show South Africa's future electricity demand, how the demand can be met and at what costs.

From 2011 to 2016, rolling blackouts are anticipated unless extraordinary steps are taken to accelerate the realisation of the non-Eskom generation and energy-efficiency projects.

Accordingly, the country will require an energy mix by 2030 comprising of 48 percent baseload coal, 14 percent baseload nuclear, 16 percent renewable energy, 9 percent peaking open cycle gas turbine, 5 mid-merit gas and 2 percent baseload import hydro.

The IMC looked at various scenarios, which include a case where only the direct costs of each technology are considered. They also mulled the cancellation of the Kusile power station.

The scenarios seek to achieve a balance between localisation and job creation, diversity of energy sources, climate change mitigation and the least cost investment.

The question of cost of electricity production versus that of the country wanting to limit carbon emissions is central, with the committee noting that finding a balance between the two areas is not easy.

Energy spokesperson Bheki Khumalo said the Committee has requested that the technical IRP 2010 team do more work, especially on the possibility of incorporating the benefits of carbon capture and storage (CCS) on all future coal fired power stations in the model.

The IRP 2010 supports Gross Domestic Growth (GDP) of an average 4.6 percent over the next 20-years, requiring 52 248 MW of new capacity in order to meet the projected demand and provide reserves.

It assumes at least 3 420 MW of demand side management programmes and a gradual reduction in electricity intensity because of increased efficiency.

The Medium Term Risk Mitigation plan, which was released on Thursday, deals with the immediate medium-term short fall in supply capacity.

The plan's purpose is to ensure avoidance of any form of power supply rationing in the anticipated constrained period from 2010 to 2017, by making available sufficient demand side reductions and efficiencies, and additional non-Eskom generation.

The department said the current allocation of renewable energy technologies will be investigated with the intention to hold a meeting with the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA).

The plan will then be sent to Cabinet and promulgated by the end of the year.

- BuaNews