Johannesburg - All eyes will be on government’s allocation of nuclear capacity when the Department of Energy this morning unveils its long-awaited draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) documents.
The move comes in the wake of the cabinet directive this month which gave the green light for the department to release the two documents for public consultation.
The documents will give energy users and prospective investors an insight into the nature of South Africa’s future energy mix.
The IRP, which was promulgated in 2011, is a 20-year electricity capacity plan that shows projected future electricity demand, how the demand would be met and at what cost.
It also aims to guide future energy infrastructure investments over the period up to 2050, and identify and recommend policy options to shape the future energy landscape of the country.
The department said it was a long-term energy framework to guide the selection of appropriate technologies to meet energy demand.
The IRP, which outlined the power generation mix in the period between 2010 and 2030, envisaged 9 600MW capacity from nuclear and a 17 800MW contribution from renewable energy technologies. It allocated 6 300MW from new coal.
While the government has made strides in renewable energy generation through the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (Reipp), the nuclear programme has attracted the most controversy and attention, with speculation that it was going to be a drain on the fiscus.
The government’s delay in releasing the request for proposals has fuelled suspicions about the nuclear programme. Responses to the request for proposals would inform the final funding model for the nuclear programme, ending raging speculation about its affordability.
The pursuit for nuclear energy has come up against stiff opposition from various civil society organisations.
Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute last year launched a court challenge to stop the nuclear procurement deal. The organisations, which question the legality and transparency of the nuclear programme, have branded nuclear as dangerous, expensive and dirty.
Independent consultant, Moeketsi Thobela yesterday said major policy decisions regarding South Africa’s future energy mix had been taken on the basis of an outdated energy plan.
“The update will contribute towards rational engagement on this issue,” he said.