On the 5th October 2018, members of SAPVIA and various interest groups gathered at the Axiz Auditorium in Midrand for the SAPVIA IRP Stakeholder engagement workshop. The idea behind the workshop was to share insights on ways to appropriately respond to the 2018 Draft IRP document recently released by the Department of Energy.
Key amongst the presentations made on the day, was the key note address and presentation made by Mr. Jacob Mbele from the DoE (Department of Energy) in which he highlighted the following key elements in terms of the Draft IRP;
- The IRP is designed to support the country’s medium and long-term economic and social objectives.
- The IRP is equally designed to lower the cost of supply into the energy grid using the least cost model coupled with a conscience around the environmental sustainability of various energy sources.
Mr. Mbele also highlighted the significance of energy infrastructure in underpinning economic activity and growth in South Africa and that there needs to be robust infrastructure that is extensive enough to meet industrial, commercial and household needs.
In achieving this, the 2018 Draft IRP would therefore be a critical document, bearing in mind the four milestones that are core to its existence as a vision document;
- The development of valid input assumptions to create tangible outcomes
- The development of a business case and scenario analysis
- The development of a balanced plan
- The development of subsequent policy adjustments.
In terms of developing the input assumptions one of the things that was factored in was the fact that electricity demand decreased by 30% from the initial Draft IRP 2010 assumptions. Furthermore, Eskom’s existing generation and plant performance is not at expected levels so there is a need to procure more energy capacity in line with the energy mix and the least cost approach. This is also in “light” of the fact that the cost of new generation technologies has come down significantly.
Scenarios on the other hand, were analysed in line with the objectives of the IRP which is to provide electricity infrastructure that aims to ensure security of supply while minimizing the cost of supply, water usage and other environmental impacts.
Present at the forum, was the CSIR; where they provided further insights into the implications of the above-mentioned least cost scenario while imposing new build limits on technologies employed. New build limits on technologies imply that no more than the imposed limits per technology can be built in any given year. Currently these built limits have only been applied to two new technologies, that being; Solar PV and Wind technologies.
Solar PV is limited to 10 000 MW annually which will result in a move from 2,5% of peak demand in 2020 to 1,7% of peak demand by 2050, whereas wind is limited to 1600 MW annually which result in a move from 4,0% of peak demand in 2020 to 2,7% of peak demand in 2050.
Comparatively speaking however, other Countries are installing more Solar PV per year than South Africa’s proposed IRP new build limits for 2030/2050. Lastly, Solar PV and wind penetration in leading countries is already between 1 and 1,3 times the levels expected in the draft IRP for the year 2050.
In conclusion, the workshop was a real success with guest speakers such as Mr. Bernad Magoro from Eskom highlighting the positive impact of the current renewable energy penetration levels on the Eskom’s national grid particularly when it comes to operational performance (i.e. Load forecasting). Mr. Dave Collins from Mac Consulting on the other hand touched on environmental constraints such as Carbon dioxide emissions and water by highlighting that, global warming and concerning climatic changes are worsened by the current high levels of Carbon dioxide emissions that are mostly caused by burning traditional energy sources such as coal. Decarbonisation of electricity as mentioned in the 2018 Draft IRP is therefore a critical part of the solution, coupled with the significant drop in water consumption as part of the decarbonisation process.
As part of closing remarks, Professor Tobias Bischof- Niemz from the University of Johannesburg made a presentation on potential policy adjustments that could be made, such as; considering the deployment of new energy infrastructure where old infrastructure is no longer feasible, coupled with a need to implement capacity payments for reliably available energy capacity.