Picture: Henk Kruger / African News Agency (ANA)
CAPE TOWN – The African Energy Chamber (AEC) on Friday lauded South Africa's newly-approved Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2019, calling it a breakthrough for the country.

"The approval of the revised IRP 2019 is a breakthrough for South Africa, which has huge energy investment potential," the Johannesburg-based AEC said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.

With the IRP, the AEC is optimistic about investment prospects and energy sector growth in the country, said AEC Executive Chairman NJ Ayuk.

The IRP, approved by the South African cabinet on Thursday, is the national electricity infrastructure development plan based on least cost-electricity supply and demand balance, which takes into account security of supply and the environment.

The approval of the plan came as a new round of power blackouts gripped the country, seriously impacting economic activities and people's lives. South Africa relies heavily on coal for power generation.

The IRP is designed to reduce dependence on coal by exploiting other resources of energy such as nuclear, solar, hydro and wind. Under the IRP, several power capacity additions are planned until 2030.

This notably includes 1,000 MW of coal-based generation in 2023 and 2024, 5,670 MW of solar photovoltaic capacity between 2025 and 2030, 8,100 MW of wind power capacity between 2025 and 2030, 2,500 MW of hydropower capacity by 2030, and 8,100 MW of gas-based power generation capacity between 2026 and 2029.

By 2030, South Africa's coal-based generation will have fallen to 33,847 MW from its current 39,16 MW, while clean energy such as solar, wind and gas will have increased by a total of 330 percent.

"No progress is small and the taking of such pro-active steps by the government of South Africa is saluted by the entire energy community," Ayuk said.

He encouraged the AEC's global partners to start reaching out and get involved in South Africa's new era of energy development or get left behind.

The AEC believes that these are exciting times to establish strategic partnerships with South African entities and engage with regional and international energy stakeholders on developing South Africa's energy infrastructure, added Ayuk.

As a progressive business network, the AEC promotes business and investment opportunities within the continent by connecting local corporations, foreign investors and ministerial parties.