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The Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which outlines the country’s national electricity roadmap that includes a dynamic energy mix to meet demand, has recently seen the long-awaited IRP 2018 published and open for public comment.

What is the IRP2018? 

ESI Africa has highlighted five stand-out items in the draft plan to bring to the fore; New installed capacity vs resultant installed capacity; Change of assumptions since the promulgated IRP 2010–2030; Scenario analyses results; Dates of plant decommissioning up to 2050; and Embedded generation.

1. New installed capacity vs resultant installed capacity

New installed capacity to 2030 will include: 1,000MW coal; 2,500MW hydro (imported); 5,600MW wind; 8,100MW solar PV; and a significant 8,100MW of gas.

The resultant installed capacity mix in the year 2030 and percentage will consist of:

  • Coal with 34,000MW, making up 46%
  • Nuclear with 1,860MW, making up 2.5%
  • Hydro with 4,696MW, making up 6%
  • Pumped Storage with 2,912MW, making up 4%
  • Solar PV with 7,958MW, making up 10%
  • Wind with 11,442MW, making up 15%
  • CSP with 600MW, making up 1%
  • Gas with 11,930MW, making up 16%

In response to the draft IRP2018 Update, the South African Wind Energy Association congratulated the Department of Energy for ensuring that the draft IRP 2018 places emphasis on “least-cost” options to 2030 with the significant new wind, solar PV, and gas allocations.

“By 2030, Wind should make up just over 15% of the country’s power mix, assuming that all 8,100MW of new procurement is achieved by then, bringing onshore wind to 11,442MW in total,” said Brenda Martin, CEO of SAWEA.

Martin added: “Energy investment choices made in the IRP 2018 update will have long-term effects for the economy as a whole, and the successful, timeous achievement of the energy transition. “It is therefore critical that public inputs call for the finalised Integrated Resource Plan to be based on choices that allow for transition-related investment certainty and job-creating local manufacturing growth in particular.”

2. Change of assumptions since the promulgated IRP 2010–2030

The IRP2018 Update draft mentions that various key input assumptions have changed from the promulgated IRP 2010–2030, which include:

  • Electricity demand as projected in the promulgated IRP 2010–2030 did not realise
  • PV and wind technology learning rates adjusted to reflect declining prices
  • The existing Eskom plant availability that was assumed to be 86% has been significantly lower.

3. Scenario analyses results

For the period ending 2030, applied policy adjustment and considerations in the final proposed plan are as follows:

  • A least-cost plan with the retention of annual build limits (1,000MW for PV and 1,600MW for wind).
  • The inclusion of 1,000MW of coal-to-power in 2023–2024, based on two already procured and announced projects.
  • The inclusion of 2,500MW of hydropower in 2030 to facilitate the RSA-DRC treaty on the Inga Hydropower Project in line with South Africa’s commitments contained in Integrated Resource Plan 2018 Page 40 of 75 the NDP to partner with regional neighbours.
  • Renewable energy technologies identified and endorsed for localisation and promotion will be enabled through Ministerial Determinations utilising the existing PV, Wind and Gas allocations in the IRP Update · Made annual allocations of 200MW for generation-for-own-use between 1MW to 10MW, starting in 2018. Read more: Several organisations call for low-carbon technologies in IRP

4. Dates of plant decommissioning up to 2050

Coal: The full impact of decommissioning the existing Eskom fleet was not fully studied in the IRP Update. However, it was noted that over the Update planning period, close to 75% (just under 30 GW) of the current Eskom coal fleet would have reached end-of-life by 2040.

Nuclear: Koeberg is expected to reach end-of-life by mid- to late 2040, based on a normal 60-year lifespan.

OCGT: plants in South Africa are operating on diesel and about 3GW is expected to be decommissioned by 2025.

Wind: Wind capacity signed under REIPP Bid Window 1 will be decommissioned by 2035.

PV: Close to 1GW of PV capacity will be decommissioned by 2040.

5. Embedded generation

The IRP Update has allocated 200MW per annum through to 2030 for embedded generation for own use allocation between 1MW and 10MW, which is unpacked in the Update’s Appendix E. The addendum highlights various activities for each 1MW-10MW whether it is grid tied or not, noting that all activities listed must comply with licensing requirements as regulated and administered by NERSA.

The post-2030 outlook unclear

South African law firm Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr, has highlighted that the IRP update acknowledges that the significant change in the energy mix post-2030 is highly impacted by the assumptions used and that a slight change concerning the assumptions can alter the path chosen.

“It is therefore critical that the IRP Update, when finalised, is approached as it was intended to be, as a living document that is regularly reviewed and updated.

“The IRP Update states that the review and outcome imply that the pace and scale of new capacity developments needed up to 2030 must be curtailed compared with that in the IRP 2010. Effectively this means that the following IPP programmes will likely not continue: the Coal Baseload IPP programme (beyond the current two projects being procured), the Co-Generation IPP Programme and the Small Renewable Energy IPP Programme,” the legal firm explained. Read more: Bumpy ride ahead for draft IRP2018 energy plan

In anticipation of public comment on this strategic document which will impact end users and the country, ESI Africa is hosting a live webinar discussion on the 25th of October 2018 just a day before public comment closes. Register here

A sixty-day window from the publication date – 27 August 2018 – has been set for public comment.