Renewables in the New Growth Path

The proposed scale-up of renewable energy in the draft integrated resource plan, or IRP2010, which was currently out for public comment, is sufficient to stimulate localisation and industrial investment, particularly in the area of wind energy, South Africa’s Department of Energy (DoE) asserts.
Speaking as government released its ‘New Growth Path’, which, among many other things, highlights the job creation potential of the so-called ‘green economy’, DoE director-general Nelisiwe Magubane dismissed arguments that the pace at which renewable energy would be introduced was insufficient to promote industrial development.
She highlighted that fact that, under the ‘Balance Revised Scenario’, which is the government’s preferred power-generation option for the coming 20 years the build-up of wind projects between 2014 and 2019 should be sufficient to simulate investment into the manufacture of wind-energy components and systems.
The plan proposes that 3 800 MW of wind energy be introduced into South Africa’s power generation system by 2019, while a further 7 200 MW of renewable energy generation (wind, solar, landfill and biomass) be added between 2020 and 2030.
In total, the scenario proposes that renewables account for 16% of the overall generation mix by 2030, while coal’s relative contribution should decline from over 90% currently to 48%.
The IRP2010 also proposes that 9 600 MW of nuclear generation capacity be introduced between 2023 and 2030, which would account for 14% of the overall generation capacity by that date.
But notwithstanding the envisaged introduction of low-carbon capacity over the coming two decades, the DoE and Eskom acknowledged that the proposed mix would still fall short of South Africa’s carbon dioxide (CO2) reduction commitments, made at the United Nations conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in late 2009.
Eskom operations and planning division MD Kannan Lakmeeharan, who played a key role in mapping the scenarios outlined in the draft IRP2010, said that the Balance Revised Scenario anticipated that South Africa’s yearly CO2 emissions would rise to 271-million tons.
This was higher than the country’s Copenhagen commitment, which proposed a range of between 220-million tons and 260-million tons by 2025.
But Magubane stressed that there had been “no agreement” in Copenhagen and that South Africa’s political commitment had also been premised on the receipt of technical and financial support, which also still had to be agreed.
She noted that South Africa would require R500-billion in additional funding to pursue a “low-carbon” generation mix, which would also require the installation of an additional 22 000 MW, when compared with the proposed mix in the IRP2010.
In 2010 terms, the Balance Revised Scenario would require an investment of R860-billion.
But Magubane also stressed that the IRP2010 could still be influenced by the public comments and the upcoming hearings, which would take place in Durban, Cape Town and Johannesburg between November 26 and December 3.
The comment period had been extended from 30 to 60 days and would close on December 10, 2010.
The revised IRP2010 draft would be submitted to Cabinet early next year and it would be promulgated during the first quarter off 2011.
But Magubane also stressed that it would be adapted to include new technologies as these were proved and that the next version would probably be produced in 2012.