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South Africa opens draft IRP energy plan for public comment

The draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP 2023) setting out how South Africa will seek to ensure security of electricity supply was formally issued by Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe and will be open to public comments until 23 February.

“The purpose of this publication is to solicit public comments on the assumptions, input parameters, scenarios, and observations made,” the Department for Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) said on X. “Comments submitted will be considered in drafting the final policy adjusted plan which will map out the future energy mix for the country.”

The 52-page document has been published in the South African Government Gazette and considers several scenarios and latest developments in the country’s electricity industry, DMRE said. It considers two time horizons: the period up to 2030, focusing on addressing prevailing generation capacity constraints and system requirements to close the supply gap; and the period from 2031 to 2050, focusing on long-term electricity generation planning with pathways to achieve a net zero electricity sector by 2050.

South Africa’s previous IRP, published in 2019, recognised the need to retain nuclear power in the country’s energy mix and supported utility Eskom in pursuing a licence for the long-term operation of the Koeberg nuclear power plant. The plant’s life extension is currently being reviewed by the National Nuclear Regulator, the new document notes.

Over the longer horizon, pathways comprising dispatchable technologies with high utilisation factors – including different combinations of nuclear, renewables, clean coal and gas – will provide security of supply as well as supporting carbon reduction commitments, the report finds.

Firm decisions based on system requirements are “crucial”, the plan concludes, but final policy decisions “must be taken on the basis of a longterm decarbonisation trajectory” while improving South Africa’s competitiveness and economic growth, the IRP concludes.

The DMRE recently confirmed it intends to start the procurement process for 2500 MWe of new nuclear capacity, with plans to issue requests for proposals by March 2024.

Source: World Nuclear News