Elizabeth Dipuo
Peters, South African
Energy Minister
 
7 April 2010 – South African Energy Minister, Dipuo Peters said on Tuesday that the draft consultation paper on the second version of the integrated resource plan (IRP2), which will provide a power investment and energy-mix road map for the next 20 years, will be published during April.

The document, which was initially expected by the end of March, would form the basis for a far-reaching "stakeholder engagement process", which government’s inter-Ministerial committee (IMC) on energy approved in late March.

Speaking to business leaders, Peters indicated that the plan would emphasise renewable energy, electricity imports and demand-side management (DSM) schemes. However, it is also likely to include further coal-fired power stations and the resurrection of the country’s nuclear-energy programme.

The emphasis on imports was in line with South Africa’s renewed commitment to the Southern African Power Pool, while the emphasis on DSM is aligned to the country’s one-million solar water-heater drive, as well as an offer by Business Unity South Africa (Busa) to pursue some 5 000 MW of additional energy savings.

It was unclear from where the Busa-proposed savings would be derived, but unionist-turned-businessperson Jayendra Naidoo had been tasked with driving the project, which was canvassed with Peters on Tuesday.

Naidoo had also been appointed as Busa’s "point person" with regards all matters electrical, in a bid to facilitate more rapid consultation with government on energy matters.

In announcing the move, Busa’s vice-president Michael Spicer, who is also Business Leadership South Africa CEO, said that it was hoped that the new "channel" would help avoid government being bogged down in "endless consultation processes".

Meanwhile, the Department of Energy (DoE) has also called on all interested parties to register on a stakeholder database for inclusion in the IRP2 consultation process, which would begin in earnest during April.

The IMC, which is chaired by Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan, hopes to complete the plan by June and have it published in the Government Gazette by September.

The IRP2 issue is one of nine so-called "work streams" falling under the IMC, which also includes Peters, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel and the Minister in the Presidency Responsible for the National Planning Commission, Trevor Manuel.

At least two "consultation workshops", which will include delegates from government, labour, business and civil-society groups, will be held during April and May. However, it is not yet clear whether these will be held across all nine provinces.

There was much unhappiness late last year when the DoE published the IRP1, covering the period 2010 to 2013, following what was an extremely narrowly based consultation exercise.

Critics saw the release as a mere "tick-the-box" exercise, given that the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) required an IRP to be in place before it could make a determination on Eskom’s tariffs for the period from April 1, 2010, through to March 31, 2013. Nersa eventually approved average tariff increase of around 25% a year for the next three years.

However, Minister Peters promised that the plan, which was coal and Eskom heavy, would be followed up by a more comprehensive plan, which would be broadly consulted and would spell out the detail of South Africa’s energy mix for next 20 years, including the role of renewables, nuclear, independent power producers and imports.

Following the IMC meeting of late March, Peters reported that the DoE would host a workshop with stakeholders, at which government would share its approach to the IRP2.

She said that the consultation would cover the role and scope of the IRP2, as well as the need to balance the security of supply with the country’s growth and affordability priorities, as well as the introduction for low-carbon technologies.

During the consultation, the following matters would also be debated:

  • The role and feasibility of South Africa’s carbon commitments and renewable energy;
  • The role and feasibility of a coal phase-out;
  • The role of nuclear power;
  • The need to complement the IRP process with water and transportation, as well as primary energy planning.