On Tuesday, South African energy minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, delivered a speech outlining the Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) and Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) processes, including a reflection on the key aspects of the processes.

The South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) said that it welcomes the 2016 update of the long-awaited Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).

The Association praised the allocation of 17,600MW for solar photovoltaic (PV) in the 2016 IRP update, stating that it is a step in the right direction. However, it is still less than what the sector has to offer given the abundant resources.

IRP 2016 update

Joemat-Pettersson explained: “Since the promulgation of the IRP 2010-30 there has been a number of developments in the energy sector, the country and the region, which necessitate that we review and update the plan.

“Some of the developments or changes includes, additional capacity that has come online, demand lower than envisaged in IRP 2010-30, draught in neighbouring countries experiencing resulting electricity shortage, reduced Eskom plant performance and changes in technology costs.”

She added: “The IRP update process is different from the IRP 2010-30 development processes in a sense that the update process is not zero based but use the from the promulgated policy adjusted IRP 2010-30 as a reference point.

"The IRP development and update process as in the case of the IEP aims to balance similar objectives which are; security of supply, cost of electricity, job creation and localisation, minimal negative environmental impact, minimal water usage, to diversity of supply sources (energy mix) and promotion of energy access.

“Against these objectives the Department set four key milestones in regard to the development of the IRP, which are (1) settling the key assumptions, (2) developing a Base-Case, (3) modeling and analysing the Scenarios and sensitivities, and finally (4) developing the final plan taking into account the various scenarios and policy positions.”

Favouring cost

According to SAPVIA: “The updated IRP will give all South Africans the opportunity to interrogate the choices and cost assumptions used by the IRP planners to reach their conclusions regarding technology choices.

“Independent modelling, based on up-to-date figures from South Africa’s REIPPPP bidding rounds confirm that renewables are the best policy choice in order to meet South Africa’s energy needs at the least cost, while still maintaining our carbon obligations.”

They added: “Evidence shows that the least cost path for South Africa to achieve a sustainable, low carbon, high job creating energy mix is one that contains a large renewable energy component, supplemented with gas fire power. This renewables and gas scenario has been repeatedly seen in our BRICS partners and elsewhere globally.

“In the current fiscally constrained environment, SAPVIA believes that the additional cost of deviation from this ‘least cost scenario’ should be made public to allow policy makers to make informed value-for-money decisions.”

According to SAPVIA, the ‘build constraint’ placed on renewables should be removed in the IRP models and scenarios in order to reflect the real potential that solar technology can play. The association will examine the rationale for the current artificial cost-ineffective constraints being placed in the IRP models as it prepares its submission for the consultative process.

SAIPPA echoes SAPVIA hospitality of the IRP 2016 update

Today the South African Independent Power Producer Association (SAIPPA) released a statement welcoming the release of the energy planning tools i.e. the Integrated Energy Plan and the Integrated Resource Plan in particular, by the minister of energy, yesterday.

"AT LAST! SAIPPA also takes note of the public hearings, which will take place next year. We definitely are going to be a part of the contingent that will participate in the exercise," SAIPPA chairman Sisa Njikelana said in a statement.

He added: "SAIPPA will enter into this effort with an open mind bearing in mind such has a significant potential on the power industry in a transforming South Africa."