Nuclear to get short end in energy mix
Integrated Resource Plan is favourably disposed towards procuring more renewable power
The broad strokes of SA’s long awaited Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) – the government’s long-term energy plan — which was presented to business and labour in the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) on Friday do not indicate a need for any new nuclear power to be added to the grid and envisages an overall reduction in coal-generated energy by 2030.
The plan is favourably disposed towards procuring more renewable energy and co-generated energy, which will lead to greater competition in the electricity sector.
The IRP models project energy demand and the relative costing of various technologies to produce a long-term plan of the generation facilities that will be required by the economy.
The plan has been bogged down in politics mostly because of lobbying by former president Jacob Zuma that SA should build nuclear power reactors.
Minister of energy Jeff Radebe gave business and labour first sight of the plan on Friday in a presentation to Nedlac. The detail of the plan is to be published on Monday. At the meeting both Business Unity SA (Busa) and organised labour appealed to Radebe to allow sufficient time for consultation.
Radebe has said given the urgency of the plan, the comment period would be short.
Busa vice-president Martin Kingston said consultation with business had been inadequate in the past.
"Documents of this technical complexity take time to analyse to prepare meaningful comment. We therefore urge that at least 60 days be allowed for this purpose to ensure substantive engagement," he said.
Matthew Parks, Cosatu’s negotiator, said there needed to be enough time for consultation.
Business also asked Radebe to provide the full information available on the cost of various technologies, so that stakeholders are able to assess to what extent the IRP "base case" — or the one selected as the best option — is genuinely the least-cost option available.
"From our perspective the cost of implementing these plans needs to be clearly understood. The negative impact of the high cost of electricity on the economy is well known.
The importance of the IRP being developed from the starting point of a least-cost base case can therefore not be overestimated. Policy adjustments, which are required to address other national imperatives, like increasing access to electricity and achieving the country’s carbon emission reduction commitments must be imposed on a least-cost base case so that the costs of achieving these imperatives [are] fully understood," says the Busa statement.
Parks said Cosatu raised concerns about job losses.