IRP 2023 public consultations

Monday, February 12, 2024

By Calvin Augustine

A cornerstone of our democracy over the past 30 years has been the participation of citizens in key policies and decisions that our country embarks on. This is in line with the country’s founding principle of building a participatory democracy and listening to the views of our citizens.

This approach is a Constitutional imperative that states that "people's needs must be responded to, and the public must be encouraged to participate in policy-making”. It mandates all spheres of government to ensure that South Africans have a say in the way they are governed.

The involvement of citizens through public participation allows them to meaningfully influence the decisions that affect their lives. It also ensures greater co-operation, collaboration and the building of partnerships to improve the lives of people.

Government once again calls on citizens to make their voice heard on the future of our country’s energy supply by engaging with the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP 2023) that was released in January this year for public comment.

The Department of Minerals and Energy published the draft IRP 2023 which maps out the future energy mix for the country so that it can solicit public comments on the various assumptions, scenarios and observations made in the plan.

Through their submissions, citizens will have a direct say in how the country addresses the current energy challenges. Submissions must be made on or before 23 February 2024 to the Director-General of the Department of Minerals and Energy.

Our nation’s Integrated Resource Plan is a living document that is continuously revised and updated as necessitated by changing circumstances. It was first promulgated in March 2011 and the last review of the IRP was done in 2019.

The 2023 update estimates South Africa's long-term electricity demand and charts how this demand for energy can be met. It takes into account costs and our climate change commitments in meeting our country’s demand for electricity.

Through the plan we aim to balance energy generation with demand, while also factoring in the environment and total cost of supply. The draft IRP 2023 is based on a scientific process that considers several scenarios and latest developments in the country’s electricity industry.

The updated plan sets out two-time horizons that includes interventions that will help us in the short-term up to 2030, and the energy mix the country will pursue to securing our long term energy supply until 2050.

In the period up to 2030, the plan focuses on addressing prevailing generation constraints and system requirements to close the energy supply gap. On the other hand, the period from 2031 to 2050 focuses on long-term electricity generation to achieve a resilient Net Zero electricity sector by 2050.

While the draft IRP 2023 acknowledges that there will be intermittent load shedding until 2028, it proposes bold interventions to stabilise the grid and over time increase energy generation through gas, wind, photovoltaic solar, and battery storage.

The most significant change relates to the allocation for new gas-to-power, which has been increased from the 3 000 MW outlined in the IRP 2019 to 7 220 MW. It raises our installed base of gas and diesel generation to 11 050 MW in 2030, up from the 6 380 MW assumed in the current plan.

Over the longer-term, a power system energy mix that takes into account energy security, decarbonisation and low cost of energy is proposed. The plan notes that while renewable energy technology will help the country meet its decarbonisation goals, it remains costly and does not provide security of supply.

Power generation such as nuclear, renewables, clean coal and gas that can be immediately active when needed has been singled out to provide security of supply and assist our decarbonisation. Furthermore, our energy system will require a massive new build programme and scaling up of our transmission network between 2031 and 2050.

The energy plan shows government is committed to addressing our energy challenge and build a better tomorrow. We cannot however do it alone and need citizens to play their part by engaging with the country’s energy plan.

In doing so every citizen can partner with us on changing our energy situation. Our nation has always been at its strongest when we work together as citizens and communities to effect change.

Calvin Augustine is a Deputy Director in the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS)