virtual power plants
Featured image: Stock

As the long-awaited Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) has been made open for public comment after the draft document was approved by Cabinet last week, multiple organisations have welcomed this progressive plan.

The IRP is South Africa’s 20-year electricity masterplan, which forecasts the country’s energy demands and determines how they should be met.

“We welcome the release of the draft IRP by Energy Minister Jeff Radebe. We believe that public input will be integral to the process of finalising this important document,” says Dominic Wills, CEO of SOLA Future Energy.

Wills urged the renewable energy sector must use the 60-day comment period to meaningfully contribute toward a resource plan that prioritises low-cost, low-carbon technologies that will take the country’s economy forward. Read more: The draft IRP 2018 plan is out!

“SOLA Future Energy is currently working through the document and we intend sending our submissions to the department,” he added.

The inclusion of new coal in IRP

Life After Coal and Greenpeace Africa have slammed the inclusion of new coal in the electricity plan arguing that it will cost South Africa close to R20 billion, and will make electricity more expensive for the citizens.

The Life After Coal Campaign (consisting of Earthlife Africa, the Centre for Environmental Rights, and groundWork) and Greenpeace Africa argue that the inclusion of an additional 1,000MW of new coal-fired power - on top of existing and under-construction coal - puts the Department of Energy in conflict with the rights enshrined in the Constitution, noting that there are safer, cleaner, and less-expensive energy options available.

“While we recognise the increased emphasis on renewable energy in the draft IRP, unless the Minister of Energy substantially revises and amends the draft IRP to ensure that the Constitutional right to a healthy environment is preserved and protected - and specifically excludes any new coal - the Department runs the risk of the IRP being challenged in court,” warns Melita Steele, senior climate and energy campaign manager at Greenpeace Africa.

Robyn Hugo, head of the Pollution & Climate Change Programme at the Centre for Environmental Rights, said the updated IRP fails to take sufficient account of the external costs of the various available technologies.