South Africa pushes renewable energy

18 March 2011

Energy from renewable sources will be expected to make up a substantial 42% of all new electricity generation in South Africa over the next 20 years, following Cabinet approval of the country’s Integrated Resource Plan 2010.

This is a radical increase from the 30% of new generation assigned to renewable energy under the draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) released for public comment last year.

Cabinet on Thursday approved the IRP 2010 as well as the tabling in Parliament of the Independent System and Market Operator Bill, which will facilitate the participation of independent power producers (IPPs) in electricity generation in South Africa.

Under the approved IRP 2010, nuclear is expected to make up 23% of all new electricity generation (down from 25% in the draft IRP), coal 15% (down from 16%), open-cycle gas turbines 9% (down from 15%), hydro power 6% (down from 9%), and imported gas 6% (up from 5%).

Addressing journalists in Cape Town, Minister in the Presidency Responsible for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Collins Chabane, said the IRP 2010, which will now be promulgated by the Department of Energy, will form the basis of South Africa’s power generation programme for the next 20 years.

“The IRP 2010 is aligned to the objectives set in the Long Term Mitigation Scenarios and the commitments made to the climate change imperatives, especially the Copenhagen Accord,” Chabane said.

Independent power producers

Chabane said the Independent System and Market Operator Bill was key to a “disciplined, open and transparent electricity sector”. Independent power producers would help to build new generation capacity and spread the burden and risk related to providing the power capacity needed to grow South Africa’s economy.

Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said the IRP2010 was not set in stone, but rather allowed the government “at different intervals” to make tariff changes or adopt new, more cost-effective technologies should these become available.

Peters said the Independent System and Market Operator Bill would allow for the establishment of an office for buying electricity from independent power producers.

Nuclear power

On the question of nuclear power, Peters said that 23%, or a projected 9 600 megawatts, of new power generation had been set aside for nuclear, but stressed that the IRP 2010 did not indicate how many nuclear power stations were required – a task team would look into this further.

She stressed that there was as yet no contract with any company to build new nuclear power stations in the country.

Department of Energy Director-General Nelisiwe Magubane said that members of Parliament’s portfolio committee on energy had recently travelled to France to gain a better understanding of nuclear power.

Peters added that her department had been holding various round-tables to explain the energy mix, and would also soon be launching a new energy efficiency campaign.

Source: BuaNews