News for those who’ve been following the story of the plans for nuclear power in South Africa. This morning the Department of Energy (DoE) released its new assumptions and scenarios regarding energy planning for the future in updated versions of the Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) and the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) which will be open for public comment.
It’s good news for renewable lobbyiests: the need for new nuclear power stations to come online have been put back seven years 2037, in favour of initial capacity investments in gas, photovoltaic solar, wind and hydro power to supplement existing baseload power provision in the short term.
Using the latest figures from Eskom and CSIR, the department projects that by 2030 as much as 1GW of power will be generate by hydro power. By 2050, over a third of the installed capacity would be wind and solar power according to the department’s predictions – although the actual power produced would be around a quarter of total consumption.
Where things get really interesting is at the back of the IRP document where the DoE forecasts some alternate scenarios for discussion. In the most ambitious scenario, solar and wind power become the primary new types of power, totalling 156GW of extra capacity by 2015 compared to just 5.4GW for nuclear. Open and combined gas turbines would account for 48GW of the energy produced by 2050.
One this is common to all of DoE’s projections: it seems determined to wean South Africa off of coal, which is currently used for the majority of power generation in teh country.
One group who’ll be very happy is tax watchdog OUTA, which has been campaigning for a halt to nuclear procurement plans until a new IRP is published. It looks like the group has got its way – it should be impossible for big expenditure on new nuclear power stations, which the tax-payer would have to underwrite, to go ahead until this IRP is finalised now. And with the projected dates for procurement put back, it gives newer technologies more time to prove their economic worth before big spending decisions are made.
//Update – Eskom has apparently promised to stick to its current time frame for procurement, for the time being. That means it will seek proposals from vendors by the end of the year. Which is interesting.
These draft documents are now open for public comment until February 2017 – an exact date has not yet been specified – and roadshows are planned to take place between 7th – 15th December in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth. Additional consultation roadshows will take place in January with details expected to be released closer to the time.
Once again these documents are drafts and now that they are open for comment there is sure to be a lot of discussion around the scenarios, assumptions and pricing the DoE has used. We’re curious to hear your thoughts so why not tell us what you think in the comments below.
We’ve included links to the assumptions and scenario documents below.