IRP to be “concluded imminently” – South Africa Energy Minister

*This article was originally published on the Africa Oil & Power website.

South Africa’s Minister of Energy, Hon. Jeff Radebe, has confirmed that the country’s long-awaited Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) will be “concluded imminently.”

The draft IRP, which maps out the country’s energy strategy until 2030, was first released in August 2018 for public comment.

Speaking among power industry leaders at a conference in Cape Town last week, the minister said: “Cabinet approval for the IRP for South Africa will define a tangible plan for energy security that also enables the participation of independent power producers side by side with Eskom.”

On decreasing the dependence on Eskom to meet the country’s power needs he added that “we can’t put all our energy eggs in one basket,” while acknowledging that the country’s coal deposits cannot lie dormant.

“Coal to liquids and other clean coal technologies are critical considerations that will enable us to continue using our coal resources in an environmentally responsible way,” he explained.

Speaking on the shift to a more renewable energy-focused energy mix and, the role of the IRP in seeing this through, Eskom CEO, Phakamani Hadebe said: “There can be no doubt that the world is moving from fossil fuels to renewable energy…the IRP is pointing in that direction… every year you get less investors willing to fund fossil.”

He added that, “year by year, an increasing number of investors say no to financing coal power in South Africa. We need to accelerate the transition to renewables.”

With one of the highest per capita users of electricity globally, Minister Radebe highlighted that there is still a high number of South African’s without access to energy. In closing the power gap, the minister spoke about the importance of investment initiatives such as President Cyril Ramaphosa’s investment drive that saw the setting of investment targets that would stimulate economic growth.

On the Department of Energy’s investment efforts Radebe said: “Through the REIPP programme, the Department of Energy has set out strong signals with regards to South Africa as an investment destination for energy infrastructure development. We have successfully implemented bidding rounds to which the response has been over R250 billion ($17.5bn) in investments to date.”

Communicating the government’s energy strategy, and having a key role in greater economic growth, minister Radebe said the Department of Energy has “always indicated that our objectives are premised on improved energy security, the diversification of our energy mix including regional integration, increasing access to modern energy carriers, reducing our greenhouse gas emissions…creation and improving our energy efficiency and lowering the cost of energy.”

In achieving this low cost, low impact energy plan, Radebe said the improvement and construction of infrastructure is estimated to cost the South African economy over R1 trillion ($70,3 bn).

He pointed out that to secure this necessary funding, it was important for African governments to pursue innovative funding options to further their development agendas.

“The importance given by the IRP to natural gas is very encouraging and timely,” commented Zion Adeoye, Senior Associate at Centurion. “South Africa has always been a very promising market for gas-to-power, and the most recent gas discovery by Total highlighted the country’s potential to develop a more robust gas economy. The IRP gives stakeholders and investors a clear roadmap for the development of South Africa’s gas-fed power generation capacity, which will go a long way in facilitating investments in the sector.”