Progress on the much-anticipated integrated resource plan, or IRP2, which will provide a power investment and energy-mix road map for the next 20 years, is running behind schedule, Department of Energy (DoE) deputy director-general Ompi Aphane said on Thursday.
He said that the resource plan was still being discussed at governmental level and that engagement with various stakeholders had only recently started.
Aphane was speaking at the launch of the South African Wind Energy Association’s (Sawea’s) IRP2 decision maker’s paper, which made a strong case for the significant inclusion of wind energy in the proposed energy-mix road-map.
The IRP2 is one of the nine work streams falling under government’s Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC), which includes Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel, as well as the Minister in the Presidency responsible for the National Planning Committee Trevor Manuel.
The Ministerial committee was expected to conclude its “broad level” IRP discussions in April, which would be followed by engagement with stakeholders and the public.
However, while discussions at IMC level were still ongoing, Aphane told Engineering News Online that the DoE had initiated its stakeholder engagement process.
Last week, the department published its stakeholder consultation sheet online (www.doe-irp.co.za), which was essentially a list of all stakeholders DoE would hold discussions with during the engagement process.
Aphane further stated that the DoE had already held discussions with the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) to establish the opening position of the stakeholders, as well as the Institute for Democracy in South Africa.
It was understood that the DoE would hold a second round of discussions with the Nedlac next week.
While the DoE was in the process of actively engaging with the various stakeholders, which had registered with government and been included on the consultation sheet, Aphane said that government was also waiting for stakeholders to initiate discussions of the proposed IRP2.
Amphane appealed to the members of Sawea, in particular, to initiate more formal discussions with the DoE regarding their role and the contribution of renewable energy in South Africa’s next energy-mix road map.
The IRP2 was expected to emphasise renewable energy, electricity imports and demand-side management schemes. It was also likely to include further coal-fired power stations and the resurrection of the country’s nuclear-energy programme.
The DoE wanted to ensure that a thorough engagement process was undertaken with all stakeholders, said Aphane.
The modeling of the IRP2 was anticipated to begin in June.
Although the public debate and engagement process was running behind schedule, it was expected that the formal IRP2 would be Gazetted and promulgated in the third quarter of this year.
Aphane said that it was important to promulgate the resource plan by the end of the third quarter in order to give the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) a solid base from which to work and plan future regulations and tariffs.
It was difficult to determine when in the third quarter the IRP2 would be promulgated, continued Aphane, as Cabinet, which had to approve the plan before promulgation, would take a recess during the FIFA 2010 World Cup, which runs from mid-June 11 to mid-July, and it was not certain when its schedule would resume.