SA outlines consultation process for 20-year energy plan

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The South African government’s interMinisterial committee (IMC) on energy approved the much-anticipated “stakeholder engagement process” on Wednesday for the second version of the integrated resource plan, or IRP2, which will provide a power investment and energy-mix road map for the next 20 years.
The Department of Energy (DoE), which has formulated the process, also called on all interested parties to register on a stakeholder database for inclusion in the consultation process, which would begin in earnest during April.
The IMC, which is chaired by Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan, hopes to complete the plan by June and have it published in the Government Gazette by September.
The IRP2 issue is one of nine so-called “work streams” falling under the IMC, which also includes Energy Minister Dipuo Peters, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan, Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel and the Minister in the Presidency Responsible for the National Planning Commission, Trevor Manuel.
At least two “consultation workshops”, which will include delegates from government, labour, business and civil-society groups, will be held during April and May. However, it is not yet clear whether these will be held across all nine provinces.
There was much unhappiness late last year when the DoE published the IRP1, covering the period 2010 to 2013, following what was an extremely narrowly based consultation exercise.
Critics saw the release as a mere “tick-the-box” exercise, given that the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) required an IRP to be in place before it could make a determination on Eskom’s tariffs for the period from April 1, 2010, through to March 31, 2013. Nersa eventually approved average tariff increase of around 25% a year for the next three years.
However, Minister Peters promised that the plan, which was coal and Eskom heavy, would be followed up by a more comprehensive plan, which would be broadly consulted and would spell out the detail of South Africa’s energy mix for next 20 years, including the role of renewables, nuclear, independent power producers and imports.
Following the IMC meeting of Wednesday, Peters reported that the DoE would host a workshop with stakeholders, at which government would share its approach to the IRP2.
She said that the consultation would cover the role and scope of the IRP2, as well as the need to balance the security of supply with the country’s growth and affordability priorities, as well as the introduction for low-carbon technologies.
During the consultation, the following matters would also be debated:
  • The role and feasibility of South Africa’s carbon commitments and renewable energy;
  • The role and feasibility of a coal phase-out;
  • The role of nuclear power;
  • The need to complement the IRP process with water and transportation, as well as primary energy planning.
Peters would be meeting with Business Unity South Afirca next week, where it was likely that she would outline the IRP2 process, as well as deal with some other pressing energy matters, such as energy security and pricing.
From Engineering News
The Southern African Alternative Energy Association (SAAEA) will be actively involved in this process.

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