Coal projects brought forward in SA’s IRP2010


Details have started to emerge about the contents of the Cabinet-approved version of the integrated resource plan (IRP) for electricity, which outlines the proposed power generation mix for South Africa for the period 2010 to 2030.
Although not officially released, the so-called ‘Policy-Adjusted’ IRP document was put into the public domain on Wednesday by EE Publishers. The Department of Energy (DoE) said that it would only officially post the document on its website next week, once it had been published in the government gazette.
As was confirmed by Energy Minister Dipuo Peters when the IRP was approved by Cabinet in mid-March, the final version has raised the overall contribution of renewable energy to the mix from 11 400 MW in the draft to 17 800 MW. But is has also sustained the contribution of new coal at 6 300 MW and continues to propose that 9 600 MW worth of nuclear energy capacity be added by 2030.
Interestingly, though, the IRP brings forward coal-generation capacity, originally expected only after 2026, while also allowing for imported coal options.
In other words, while total new coal additions remain the same as in the draft document, the Policy-Adjusted IRP anticipates an earlier introduction for some of this new coal capacity.
Overall, 16 383 MW of new coal-fired capacity will be added between 2010 and 2030, with the bulk of that capacity arising from Eskom programmes.
However, another 6 250 MW of uncommitted coal is also proposed. This capacity comprises domestic production and imports, with the first 500 MW planned for 2014, followed by a second 500 MW facility a year later.
By 2030, therefore, coal may still represent 45,9% of the total mix at 41 071 MW. Under the plan, a total of 56 539 MW of new capacity will be added over the next 20 years, raising the country’s total capacity to 89 532 MW by 2030. Of the new capacity there is a total of 42 539 MW that is yet to be committed, with the balance already being built by Eskom.
Besides Eskom’s projects, the early coal additions are likely to be based on fluidised bed combustion (FBC) technology, using discard coal dumps in Mpumalanga. The FBC plants will be owned and operated by independent power producers (IPP), while the imports are likely to arise from IPPs in Botswana.
The IRP document cautions that, should the coal units expected for commissioning in 2014 and 2015 fail to materialise, or be delayed, the reserve margin from those years on will be roughly 1 000 MW lower.
But the plan also seeks to accelerate the deployment of renewable sources, primarily to support government’s aspiration to develop local manufacturing capacity and green industries.
It also further disaggregates these generation sources, which means that the solar options now include crystalline photovoltaic (PV), thin-film PV and concentrated solar power (CSP) separately.
The plan anticipates that wind will contribute 9 200 MW, or 16% of the 2030 mix, and solar PV 8 400 MW, or 9,4%. CSP will contribute 1 200 MW and imported hydropower a further 4 759 MW.
The first 300 MW of new solar PV is expected to be available in 2012, while the currently uncommitted 400 MW of wind is set down for 2014. CSP capacity is only expected to be introduced from 2016 onwards.
The IRP expects the first 1 600 MW tranche of new nuclear capacity from 2023, with a total of six tranches added by 2030. But the plans also assumes 40% higher nuclear capital costs, owing to a presumed under-estimation in the draft and catering for potential costs relating to waste management and decommissioning.
The policy-adjusted scenario also now expects prices to peaks at R1,12/kWh in 2021, relative to the R1,11/kWh in the draft scenario. But this peak, the report warns, draws on assumptions that could change.