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Electricity Regulation Act, 2006 (Act No. 4 of 2006)


Integrated Resource Plan 2019

2. The IRP in Context

2.1 The Energy Mix


South Africa continues to pursue a diversified energy mix that reduces reliance on a single or a few primary energy sources. The extent of decommissioning of the existing coal fleet due to end of design life, could provide space for a completely different energy mix relative to the current mix. In the period prior to 2030, the system requirements are largely for incremental capacity addition (modular) and flexible technology, to complement the existing installed inflexible capacity.


Coal: Beyond Medupi and Kusile coal will continue to play a significant role in electricity generation in South Africa in the foreseeable future as it is the largest base of the installed generation capacity and it makes up the largest share of energy generated. Due to the design life of the existing coal fleet and the abundance of coal resources, new investments will need to be made in more efficient coal technologies (HELE technology, including supercritical and ultra-supercritical power plants with CCUS ) to comply with climate and environmental requirements. The stance adopted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and financial institutions in regard to financing coal power plants, is a consideration upon which the support of HELE technology is predicated. This ensures that South African coal still plays an integral part of the energy mix.


Given the significant investments required for CCS and CCUS1 technology, South Africa could benefit from establishing strategic partnerships with international organisations and countries that have made advancements in the development of CCS, CCUS and other HELE technologies.


Nuclear: Koeberg Power Station reaches end of design life in 2024. In order to avoid the demise of the nuclear power in the energy mix, South Africa has made a decision regarding its design life extension and the expansion of the nuclear power programme into the future.


In line with power system requirements, additional capacity from any technology deployed should be done at a scale and pace that flexibly responds to the economy and associated electricity demand, in a manner that avoids tariff shocks in particular; it is the user of electricity that ultimately pays.


In this regard and as it is the case with coal, small nuclear units will be a much more manageable investment when compared to a fleet approach.


The development of such plants elsewhere in the world is therefore particularly interesting for South Africa, and upfront planning with regard to additional nuclear capacity is requisite, given the >10-year lead time, for timely decision making and implementation.


Natural Gas: Gas to power technologies in the form of CCGT, CCGE or ICE provide the flexibility required to complement renewable energy. While in the short term the opportunity is to pursue gas import options, local and regional gas resources will allow for scaling up within manageable risk levels. Exploration to assess the magnitude of local recoverable shale and coastal gas are being pursued and must be accelerated.


There is enormous potential and opportunity in this respect and the Brulpadda gas resource discovery in the Outeniqua Basin of South Africa, piped natural gas from Mozambique (Rovuma Basin), indigenous gas like coal-bed methane and ultimately shale gas, could form a central part of our strategy for regional economic integration within SADC.


Co-operation with neighbouring countries is being pursued and partnerships are being developed for joint exploitation and beneficiation of natural gas within the SADC region. SADC is developing a Gas Master Plan, to identify the short- and long-term infrastructure requirements to enable the uptake of a natural gas market.


Availability of gas provides an opportunity to convert to CCGT and run open-cycle gas turbine plants at Ankerlig (Saldanha Bay), Gourikwa (Mossel Bay), Avon (Outside Durban) and Dedisa (Coega IDZ) on gas.


Renewable Energy: Solar PV, wind and CSP with storage present an opportunity to diversify the electricity mix, to produce distributed generation and to provide off-grid electricity. Renewable technologies also present huge potential for the creation of new industries, job creation and localisation across the value chain.


The Wind Atlas developed for South Africa provides a basis for the quantification of the potential that wind holds for power generation elsewhere in the country, over and above the prevalence of the wind resource around the coastal areas. Most wind projects have been developed in the Western Cape and Eastern Cape, so far.


The generation of electricity and heat (to be supplied for industrial processes), throughbiomass and biogas holds huge potential in South Africa, recognizing that such projects range from small (kW) to larger (MW) scale and could be distributed across the industrial centres. Biomass from waste, paper and pulp, sugar industries could even be utilized in co-generation plants and deliver electricity at a price competitive level with minimal transmission and distribution infrastructure requirements.


When deployed together, the nexus between the biomass and a government-backed biofuels programmes could improve the economics of the initiatives and create job opportunities in rural and urban centres.


Hydro: South Africa’s rivers carry potential for run-off river hydro projects. These have been proven feasible with projects a number of facilities in operation by farming communities.


With regard to import hydro, South Africa has entered into a Treaty for the development of the Grand Inga Project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with some of the power intended for transmission to South Africa across DRC, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana.


In addition to this generation option providing clean energy, the regional development drivers are compelling, especially given that currently there is very little energy trade between these countries, due to the lack of infrastructure. The potential for intra-SADC trade is huge as it could open up economic trade.


Naturally, concerns have to be addressed about the risks associated with a project of this nature. South Africa does not intend to import power from one source beyond its reserve margin, as a mechanism to de-risk the dependency on this generation option.


Energy Storage: There is a complementary relationship between Smart Grid systems, energy storage, and non-dispatchable renewable energy technologies based on wind and solar PV. The traditional power delivery model is being disrupted by technological developments related to energy storage, and more renewable energy can be harnessed despite the reality that the timing of its production might be during low-demand periods. Storage technologies including battery systems, compressed air energy storage, flywheel energy storage, hydrogen fuel cells etc. are developments which can address this issue, especially in the South African context where over 6 GW of renewable energy has been introduced, yet the power system does not have the requisite storage capacity or flexibility.



1 Carbon capture, utilisation and storage, or CCUS, is an emissions reduction technology that can be applied in the industrial sector and in power generation. This technology involves the capture of carbon dioxide (CO2) from fuel combustion or industrial processes, the transportation of CO2 via a ship or pipeline, and either its use as a resource to create valuable products or services or its permanent storage deep underground in geological formations. CCUS technologies also provide the foundation for carbon removal or “negative emissions” when the CO2 comes from bio-based processes or directly from the atmosphere. Source: International Energy Agency