South Africa - Pretoria - 18 October 2019 - The Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe briefs the media following Cabinet approval of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2019. The IRP is the national electricity infrastructure development plan based on least cost-electricity supply and demand balance, that takes into account security of supply and the environment. Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency(ANA)
JOHANNESBURG - Minerals  Resources and Energy Minister on Friday unveiled the government’s long-awaited Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), charging that the government was talking to coal producers to cap the price for the commodity and working to breath new life into the Koeberg nuclear power station.

Mantashe said both coal and nuclear energy remained the cornerstone of the government’s energy mix.

He said said nuclear was one of the key sources of energy that South Africa would tap into overtime.

“Taking into account the capacity that will be decommissioned into the future, nuclear at a pace, scale and cost affordable to the country is a no-regret option,” Mantashe said.

“Upfront planning with regard to additional nuclear capacity is therefore requisite, given the long lead-time.”

Mantashe announced that the integrated plan up to 2030 comprised of 1 500 megawatts (MW) of generation from coal, 2 500 MW from hydro power, 6 000 MW from photovoltaic, 14 400 MW from wind, 2 088 MW from storage and 3 000 MW from gas.

He said coal would continue to play a significant role in electricity generation because South Africa was endowed in the resource.

Mantashe said given that South Africa continued to rely on 16 coal-fired power stations, coal was important to power generation.

“We are cautioning people who say that coal is coming to an end,” said Mantashe.

He invited investors to participate in new technological infrastructure.

“New investments will be directed towards more efficient coal technologies high efficiency, low emissions, underground coal gasification and the development of carbon capture and storage to enable us to continue using our coal resources in an environmentally responsible way,” said Mantashe.

Mantashe said the government would also work with Eskom to ensure the utility complied with the minimum emissions standard over time.

“There must be a just transition towards less carbon-emitting technologies – workers and communities in the  affected areas must - as far as possible - not be left worse off,” said Mantashe.

The IRP which was approved by lawmakers in the cabinet on Wednesday outlines the country’s energy mix and makes it possible for the country to tap into new technologies.

It comes amid load shedding as a result of unreliable supply due to constraints at Eskom, and as high electricity tariffs have led to some intensive energy users preferring to take their operations offshore.

Mantashe said that the department wanted a cap on the price of coal to Eskom.

“At least we want a cap on the price of coal to Eskom. The intention is not to kill coal producers, it is to ensure that they make their money but they do not make obscene profits,” he said, adding he wanted independent power producers to bring down their electricity prices.

Mantashe said the IRP recognised that due to challenges with Eskom plant performance, there is an immediate supply and demand gap that needs to be addressed.

“The current load shedding is a testimony to this. We urgently need to secure additional capacity in order to increase our reserve margins,” he said.