Mineral Resources and Energy minister Gwede Mantashe has outlined the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP 2019) which provides a blueprint for South Africa’s envisaged energy mix.
The plan was officially approved by the cabinet on Thursday (17 October), and is expected to be made available for public comment shortly.
In a presentation on Friday (18 October), Mantashe said that the plan will include a diversified mix pulling power from coal, solar, wind, hydro and nuclear stations.
Around 77% of South Africa’s primary energy needs are currently provided by coal.
Mantashe said that the additional capacity mix to the energy mix contained in the IRP 2019 for the period up to 2030 will be as follows:
1,500 MW of generation from coal;
2,500 MW from hydro;
6,000 MW from photovoltaic (solar);
14,400 MW from wind;
2,088 MW from storage;
3,000 MW from gas.
“It must be noted that while the coal’s installed capacity will be lower than the current installed base, it will remain the dominant energy supply contributing 59% of the energy volumes required to meet demand,” he said.
“Nuclear will contribute 5%, hydro 8%, photovoltaic 6%, wind 18%, and gas and storage 2%.”
The IRP 2019 states that coal will continue to play a significant role in electricity generation as the country has the resource in abundance.
New investments will be directed to more efficient coal technologies (high efficiency, low emissions), ‘underground coal gasification’ and the development of carbon capture and storage.
Mantahse said that government will also work with Eskom to ensure the utility complies with the minimum emissions standard over time.
“There must be a just transition towards less carbon-emitting technologies and workers and communities in affected areas must – as far as possible – not be left worse off,” he said.
Mantashe said that it is a globally accepted fact that nuclear energy is a clean source of energy that can contribute significantly to the reduction of emissions.
“There is a move globally towards the development of small modular reactors that are considered (a) more manageable investment when compared to a large fleet approach,” he said.
“The IRP 2019 provides for the extension of the design life of Koeberg as well as additional new nuclear capacity in the future.
Taking into account the capacity that will be decommissioned into the future, nuclear at a pace, scale and cost affordable to the country is a ‘no-regret’ option.”
Mantashe said that upfront planning with regard to additional nuclear capacity is therefore a requisite, given the long lead-time.
Mantashe said that renewable energy combined with storage present an opportunity to produce distributed power closer to where demand is, and to provide off-grid electricity to far-flung areas of the country.
“In addition to sun and wind resources, South Africa has some of the world’s largest high-grade resources in at least six key commodities that play a critical role in the global energy sector.
“These are vanadium, platinum, palladium, nickel, manganese, rare earths, copper and cobalt,” he said.
Mantashe said that gas power will provide the flexibility required to complement intermittent renewable energy and meet demand during peak hours.
“While in the short-term, the opportunity is to pursue gas import options, local and regional gas resources will allow for scaling up within manageable risk levels,” he said.
Indigenous gas like coal-bed methane and ultimately recoverable shale and coastal gas options are also being considered, he said.
“The IRP 2019 makes provision for gas from 2024. As previously indicated we intend to establish the first Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) hub in Coega in the Eastern Cape.”