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CSIR proposes excluding nuclear

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Published May 2, 2017


Johannesburg - For

the latest Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity in South Africa, IRP 2016,

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the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) proposes a “Least Cost”,

unconstrained scenario, or a “Decarbonised” scenario, both of which exclude

nuclear power in the electricity mix to 2050.

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This is the

executive summary of the full submission and response by the CSIR to

the Draft Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity (Draft IRP 2016) issued

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by the South African Department of Energy in November 2016, for comment and

input from relevant stakeholders and the general public by end March 2017.



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is the national scientific and industrial

research facility of South Africa, reporting to the South African Department of

Science and Technology.

Click here to download the full CSIR

response, study and report

Executive summary

by Jarrad G. Wright, Tobias Bischof-Niemz, Joanne

Calitz, Crescent Mushwana, Robbie van Heerden and Mamahloko Senatla, CSIR

As defined in

the Electricity Regulation Act, 2006; the Department of Energy (DoE), the

system operator and the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) are

responsible for the development of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) as a

plan for the electricity sector at the national level in South Africa. The

IRP broadly includes input planning assumptions (on the supply and demand

side), a modelling process and scenario planning following which a base plan is

derived from the least-cost generation investment requirements within the

electricity sector. The primary result from the IRP is the identification of

the generation capacity required (per technology) and the requisite timing

in the long-term based on a set of input assumptions and predefined


The most recent

approved and gazetted version of the IRP is the IRP 2010-2030. The current

revision of the IRP (the Draft IRP 2016) was published by the DoE for

public comment in October 2016 and includes updated input assumptions including

demand forecasts, existing plant performance, supply technology costs,

decommissioning schedules and newly commissioned/under construction as well as

preferred bidder power generators (as part of the Renewable Energy Independent

Power Producer Programme (REIPPPP) and base-load coal Independent Power Producer

(IPP) program). The time horizon for the draft IRP 2016 is up to the year 2050.

The plan defined some preliminary results in the form of a proposed Base Case

and two other selected scenarios.

As part of the

IRP update process, the DoE engages in a multi-stage stakeholder engagement

process (including public engagements) to ensure all affected stakeholders are

consulted including national and local government, business, organised labour

and civil society. This document contains the CSIR’s formal comments on

the draft IRP 2016.


determined the least cost, unconstrained electricity mix by 2050 as input

into the IRP 2016 public consultation process. A conservative approach is

always taken where pessimistic assumptions for new technologies and optimistic

assumptions for established technologies are always made. More specifically;

conventional technologies (coal, nuclear, gas CAPEX) were as per IRP 2016,

stationary storage technologies (batteries) were as per IRP 2016, natural gas

fuel costs were assumed slightly more expensive than IRP 2016, solar PV was

aligned with original IRP 2010 cost assumptions while wind is kept constant

into the future at the latest South African REIPPPP result (by 2030/2040/2050).

Job numbers were also conservative (from McKinsey study commissioned by the DoE

in the context of the Integrated Energy Plan (IEP)) but adjusting upwards for

coal power generation

and coal mining.

The result of

this is that it is least cost for any new investment in the power sector

to be solar PV, wind or flexible power. Solar PV, wind and flexible power generators

(e.g. gas, CSP, hydro, biogas) are the cheapest new-build mix. There is no

technical limitation to solar PV and wind penetration over the planning horizon

until 2050. A >70% renewable energy share by 2050 is cost optimal, replacing

all plants that decommission over time and meeting new demand with the new

optimal mix.

South Africa

has the unique opportunity to decarbonise its electricity sector without pain.

By this, the authors mean that clean and cheap are no longer trade-offs

anymore. The Least Cost scenario run is the mix that is the cheapest, emits

less CO2, consumes less water and creates more jobs in the

electricity sector than both Draft IRP 2016 Base Case and Carbon Budget


In this

submission, deviations from Least Cost have been quantified to inform policy

adjustments. Compared to the Least Cost:


2016 Base Case is R70-billion/year more costly, emits twice as much

CO2, two and a half times more water is consumed and provides 10%

less jobs by 2050.


2016 Carbon Budget scenarion is R60-billion/year more costly, emits

15% more CO2, consumes 20% more water and provides 20% less jobs by


The Decarbonised scenario

is R50-billion/year more costly, 95% decarbonised, uses 30% less water and

provides 5% more jobs by 2050.

Read also:  #NuclearDeal: Full judgment

The Least

Cost scenario is also adaptable and resilient to a range of input

assumption changes relative to other scenarios and therefore more robust

against unforeseen changes in demand and cost. In addition to the detailed

study performed to determine the Least Cost energy mix for South Africa, this

submission includes technical aspects of power system operations and planning

including transmission network infrastructure requirements and system services.

The cost

of ensuring system frequency stability (sufficient system inertia) has

been quantified in this submission. Connecting conventional technologies

(nuclear/coal/gas) via HVDC and/or solar PV/wind to the grid reduces system

inertia. This reduces the inherent stabilising effect of synchronous inertia

during contingency events. Many technical solutions to operate low-inertia

systems are available but the CSIR assumed a worst case using state-of-the-art

technology (very high costs, no further technology and/or cost advancements)

nor further increase in engineering solutions to deal with low-inertia systems.

In all scenarios, the worst-case cost are well below 1% of total cost of

power generation by 2050 (some scenarios are much lower than 1%).


network infrastructure was costed at a high level for selected scenarios

(Base Case, Carbon Budget and Least-Cost). The high-level cost estimates for

shallow and deep grid connection costs for all scenarios showed that the Least

Cost scenario scenario is also R20-30 billion/yr cheaper compared to the

Draft IRP 2016 Base Case and Carbon Budget case on transmission network

infrastructure requirements.

Click here to download the full CSIR

response, study and report



summaries for 2030, 2040 and 2050 (conservative costs applied)


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