Electricity plan to be released by year end

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Cape Town - South Africa will have a clearer picture on the future of its electricity mix and supply by the end of the year, said the Department of Energy's Ompi Aphane, Acting Deputy Director-General of Electricity, Nuclear and Clean Energy.

Aphane was briefing Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Energy today, on the public comments received by the department on the Second Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).

He said the plan is to promulgate the IRP2 - which will present various scenarios for the country's future energy policy - by November.

Leading up to this, the department plans to next month release a draft of the IRP2 for public comment and public hearings would be held with the National Energy Regulator (Nersa).

The scenarios would be built using 29 parameters including the effects of climate change, water availability, price elasticity of demand, a carbon tax, distributions infrastructure and renewable energy, on the supply of electricity for the country.

The department had received 81 submissions from the public, including from non-governmental organisations, academics and consultants and industry and business, which all made various submissions based on the parameters.

Some of these comments were gathered via www.irp2010.co.za while other inputs were gathered from Nedlac.

A total of 831 specific inputs have been fed into a database and are now being used to build the various scenarios.

Many of the comments were around renewable generation and the IRP2 consultation process itself - with most of the respondents adding that they were impressed with the process itself.

Most of the respondents called for a low carbon economy and for renewable energy - such as wind, solar and geothermal - to make up between 20 percent to 75 percent of the country's electricity mix by 2050.

Many of the respondents were strongly against coal and nuclear as future energy solutions to the country's future and pointed out the difficulty of obtaining funding for nuclear and coal.

They also pointed out the importance for the IRP2 to consider new technologies still emerging, such as solar hydrogen technology and sugar fan fibre as renewable energy source.

Aphane said South Africa faced tough choices around the future of its energy mix, adding that the economy couldn't grow in an energy-constrained environment.

He said at present available dispatchable capacity would not be able to keep up with future demand, meaning the threat of blackouts would increase.

Another challenge is that the costs for clean technology are high and international agreements on financing these technologies had to still be concluded, he said.

The IRP2, which is part of the department's Integrated Energy Plan, looks at the electricity sector and plans will also be developed for liquid fuels and gas, he said.

Aphane said the IRP2 will take into consideration whether the country has enough primary energy source, skills, land and transmissions infrastructure to meet its energy needs.

The plan also needs to meet funding requirements and answer what the future costing of electricity will be, what will be required to meet the country's energy needs and whether there is sufficient confidence from South Africans in seeing the plan through.

It must also consider how the energy needs can also help to grow the country by complementing the Department of Trade and Industry's Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP), which was launched earlier this year and aims to vamp up the country's industrial capacity.

Each scenario will describe the effect on the price of electricity, security of supply, multiplier effects and the effects of carbon on the environment.

Public comments on all 29 parameters of the IRP2 can be found at www.doe-irp.co.za