Sat, 11 Jul 2020

Partners at law firm Webber Wentzel, Alexandra Felekis and Jason van der Poel, have co-authored an analysis of the 2019 Integrated Resource Plan gazetted by Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe on Friday.

The IRP is important because it outlines government's plan for the future of energy generation.

The 100-page document promotes an energy mix which includes coal, nuclear, gas, hydro power and renewables. Coal will still be a significant contributor (59%) to the country's energy generation.

It does not outright put forward how to fix Eskom - which is plagued with financial and operational challenges, and last week reintroduced load shedding after a conveyor belt carrying coal from Grootgeluk Coal Mine to Medupi power station in Limpopo failed. Mantashe said at a briefing ahead of the document that he could not answer to matters relating to Eskom - such as its unbundling - as the entity falls under the Department of Public Enterprises.

However, the energy plan does acknowledge the impact of load shedding on the economy, and the need to find a balance with supply and demand of energy.

Here's what the IRP2019 proposes, and how - according to Felekis and Van der Poel - that will likely impact sustainable electricity supply.

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8. Develop nuclear: Commence preparations for a nuclear build programme to the extent of 2 500 MW at a pace and scale that the country can afford because it is, according to the plan, "a no-regret option in the long term".

Mantashe told journalists that nuclear would only be pursued at a pace and scale that the country can afford. Government is also looking to develop small modular reactors as they are a more manageable investment than a large fleet.

9. Build strategic relationships: South Africa must support strategic power projects in neighbouring countries that enable the development of cross-border transmission infrastructure.

The country entered into a treaty for the Grand Inga Hydropower Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo, with 2 500 MW offtake, the IRP2019 notes. The treaty allows for power to be transmitted to SA, across the DRC, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana into South Africa.

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