AN AMBITIOUS plan to reduce SA’s reliance on coal by almost half by 2030 and to more than double the use of nuclear energy was released by the Department of Energy yesterday.
by SISEKO NJOBENI
8 October 2010
AN AMBITIOUS plan to reduce SA’s reliance on coal by almost half by 2030 and to more than double the use of nuclear energy was released by the Department of Energy yesterday, while the contribution of renewable energy technologies is poised for a significant increase.
The proposals, which are part of the department’s draft integrated electricity resource plan, show the government’s preferred energy mix for the next 20 years.
They provide prospective investors with an indication of the shape of SA’s future energy industry. The integrated resource plan is a 20-year electricity capacity plan that gives an outcome of projected future electricity demand, how the demand would be met and at what cost.
The interministerial committee on energy, set up to consider energy policy issues, has approved the integrated resource plan.
The committee’s approval paves the way for a second round of a public consultation process. The department held the first round of consultations in June.
In the draft integrated resource plan, the department is proposing that coal contribute 48% to the energy mix by 2030, followed by renewable energy (16%), nuclear (14%), peaking open cycle gas turbine (9%), peaking pump storage (6%), mid-merit gas (5%) and baseload import hydro (2%). These point to a window of investment opportunity mainly in renewable energy and nuclear technologies. The draft plan envisages 52248MW of new capacity in the next 20 years.
While coal will still be the biggest contributor to electricity generation, the department’s proposals represent a significant reduction in its contribution.
Coal currently accounts for over 90% of electricity generation. Eskom’s two nuclear reactors at the Koeberg power station supply 1800MW or 6% of SA’s electricity needs. The renewable energy industry is yet to take off in SA.
The department said in drawing up the draft integrated resource plan the inter- ministerial committee considered various scenarios. These included cancelling the Kusile power station, or delaying the building of Medupi and Kusile power stations.
Eskom MD for systems operations and planning Kannan Lakmeeharan yesterday repeated the utility’s commitment to completing Kusile.
‘These are just scenarios. In fact, the final proposal includes both Kusile and Medupi.
‘The department also says we should not delay the two projects because they are important for security of supply,’ Mr Lakmeeharan said.
The department has also warned of looming power supply constraints. In a report on the medium-term risk mitigation plan for electricity in the period between this year and 2016, the department said latest forecasts indicate a worsening of electricity supply constraints from next year until 2016.
‘This situation poses a real risk of rolling blackouts, similar to those experienced in 2008, and a serious threat to government’s objectives for growth and job creation,’ the department said.
Mr Lakmeeharan said Eskom had in the past alluded to the looming supply constraints ‘because the rate of capacity addition will be less than the (electricity) demand reduction. The report says we must do something. Options include energy efficiency, independent power producers (contribution) and the energy conservation scheme’ .
Frost & Sullivan energy programme manager Cornelis van der Waal yesterday applauded the department ‘for coming up with something that portrays the real scenario as we see it. Urgent action is needed.’ The required action includes commissioning power from independent
suppliers, Mr van der Waal said.
The committee had asked the team drawing up the plan to do more work on the possibility of incorporating carbon capture and storage capability on all future coal-fired power stations.
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