Business Unity SA (Busa) has bemoaned the lack of sufficient data in the draft integrated energy and integrated resource plans which it says make a proper analysis impossible.

The comments were made by the chairman of the organisation’s energy subcommittee Martin Kingston at a consultation workshop in Bloemfontein.

The Department of Energy released the documents in November for public comment until end-March after which they will be revised.

The final versions of the plans could be published as early as June.

The plans outline future energy demand and supply scenarios and the energy mix that government envisages. One of the most controversial aspects of the integrated resource plan is the "artificial" constraint placed on the development of renewable energy though the need for new nuclear energy was not envisaged before 2037.

In his address to the workshop Kingston noted that the two plans were essential planning documents for business which would ensure certainty on the long-term sustainability of the energy sector. They provided decision makers in the public and private sectors with the planning tools to make energy-related decisions.

However, there were several areas where the information provided was insufficient to make an informed comment. Details were required for example on how the plan would be funded and information was also critically needed on the impact of a particular scenario on the future affordability of energy.

"Proper public consultation processes require that participants in the process have access to all relevant information to allow meaningful analysis, input and engagement," Kingston said.

Sufficient information was required so that an assessment could be made of the impact of the plans on the viability of companies, the competitiveness of the South African economy, the structure of the energy sector and prospective investments in the sector.

"Busa has begun a detailed analysis of the documentation and notes that the information provided is inadequate to undertake a meaningful analysis," Kingston said. Busa has asked the department for more information.

"An explicit articulation of strategy and implementation is necessary to buttress government’s stated intention to encourage investment."

Kingston also raised concerns about the lack of consistency between the two plans, the fact that transmission and distribution were not covered in the integrated resource plan and that reports on costs were not available for five of the nine technologies listed. Also missing was a complete explanation of all the material assumptions used for the base-case scenario.

Kingston argued that the department needed to motivate the constraint it proposed to place on renewable energy.

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