DoE recommends ‘balanced’ scenario in 20-year power plan (South Africa)

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In the draft second Integrated Resources Plan, or IRP2010, published for public comment on Thursday, the Department of Energy (DoE) has recommended a revised balanced electricity supply scenario by 2030.

In terms of this so-called revised balanced scenario, the country’s electriciy mix would, by 2030, comprise 48% baseload coal-fired power, 14% baseload nuclear power, 16% renewable energy, 9% peaking open-cycle gas turbine power generation, 6% peaking pump storage generation, 5% mid-merit gas power generation and 2% baseload import hydropower.

The IRP2010 supported average gross domestic growth of 4,6% on over the next 20 years, which would require 52 248 MW of new power generation capacity to be brought on line.

Further, the plan also assumed that 3 420 MW of energy could be saved through demand-side management programmes.

This balanced electricity scenario would provide for a significant reduction in carbon emissions, while also resulting in only a marginal increase in electricity prices for consumers, the DoE stated.

This would allow for a 30% reduction in carbon emissions, while only requiring 8% additional funding, compared with the least-cost scenarios that were also considered by the DoE.

However, the department highlighted that even the least-cost scenario would require an additional R790-billion in capital expenditure.

The revised balanced scenario would also provide for the localisation of renewable technologies by establishing grounds for a stable programme of capacity increase from renewable technology in the medium term, it added.

The DoE noted that this scenario was a “fair and acceptable balance”, taking into consideration the funding of new power generation, new technology uncertainties, water usage, job creation and security of supply.

In terms of the proposed plan, total wind power generation capacity would amount to 4 500 MW by 2019, with solar power contributing 600 MW of electricity by that time.

Overall, between 2019 and 2030, a further 7 200 MW of renewable energy capacity would be added.

The earlier adoption of renewable technologies would allow greenhouse gas emissions to peak at 296-million tons by 2022.

The DoE noted that the increase in renewable capacity would, with the revised balance scenario, still ensure security of electricity supply.

The department emphasised that a number of decisions have to made this year, including Eskom’s commitment to its current build programme, as well as the conclusion of the first phase of the renewable energy feed-in tariff programme.

Further, the support of cogeneration and own generation options, the DoE’s conclusion of the energy open cycle gas turbine project, a commitment to regional development, feasibility studies to develop gas infrastructure in South Africa, and decisions regarding the country’s nuclear future, would have to be considered.

The interMinisterial committee on energy, which approved the draft IRP2010 for public release, has requested the technical IRP2010 team to conduct further work in terms of carbon capture and storage on all future coal-fired power stations and in terms of the allocation of renewable energy technologies.

Going forward, the DoE was planning to take the IRP2010 proposal to Cabinet for promulgation by the end of this year.
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