Carol Paton Writer at Large
Solar panels. Picture: REUTERS/FABIAN ANDRES CAMBERO
Solar panels. Picture: REUTERS/FABIAN ANDRES CAMBERO

The government unveiled its long-awaited energy plan on Friday, which will see the country procure new energy generation from coal, wind and solar, hydro as well as battery storage and gas over the next decade.

The Integrated Resource Plan models supply and demand from 2019 to 2030.

Mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe said that some of the new capacity would be procured immediately and the department would soon put out a request to the market to establish the options for bringing on new capacity “in the shortest possible time at reasonable cost”.

By far the biggest share of new generation capacity will come from wind (14,400MW) and solar photovoltaic (PV) (6,000MW), which are the two cheapest technologies available for electricity generation. Eskom will be free to participate in this market and build new renewable energy capacity, Mantashe said.

SA will also need new coal generation capacity of 1,500MW with hydro power (2,500MW), storage (2088MW) and gas (3000MW) making up the rest of the supply.

Mantashe said that IRP2019 supported “a diversified energy mix” as that would be the best way to ensure security of supply.

No new nuclear power generation is planned over the period but the life of Koeberg is to be extended 20 years, up until 2044. Modular nuclear generation plants could come under consideration in the period after 2030 but would be procured “at the cost and pace the country can afford”, said Mantashe.

Departmental officials said that the plan had selected the most practical and least-cost technologies available. Where deviations were made from the least-cost scenario, this was for practical reasons. The additional coal generation, for instance, had been included because it had a shorter lead time than gas.

While SA would have less coal-fired energy in the future, coal would still be the biggest energy source contributing 59% of capacity. Wind at 18% of the energy mix would become the second-biggest energy source, followed by hydro with 8%. The IRP also makes provision for “distributed generation” for own use, which the government hopes will unlock investment from a variety of self producers.

patonc@businesslive.co.za