Cabinet approves SA's energy roadmap

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 11 Dec 2023
Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, minister in the Presidency responsible for electricity.
Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, minister in the Presidency responsible for electricity.

The minister in the Presidency responsible for electricity, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, has urged the public to engage with the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2023, which has been approved by Cabinet.

IRP 2023 is now set to be published by the minister of mineral resources and energy.

Ramokgopa urged communities, stakeholders and interest groups to engage with the IRP 2023 and send their submissions, as part of determining the country’s “energy future”.

“This will underpin our responses in relation to how we are going to address the energy situation in the country,” he said.

“What is significant about this is that…the IRP 2023 computes two horizons [including up to 2030]. In the context of the energy crisis, the interventions [in this IRP] will help us in the short-term to ensure we ameliorate the degree of the energy deficit that we are experiencing now.

“The IRP also computes horizon number two, which is from 2030 to 2050, and in the most bold fashion, it states what are these new sources of energy and essentially, it [deals with] our ability to be able to exploit our renewable energy endowment, and their linkages to the availability of transmission,” Ramokgopa said at the Energy Action Plan briefing on Sunday.

The minister reiterated the commitment to resolve load-shedding, and have a secure energy supply to protect the South African economy and ensure growth and development.

Living document

The IRP is a plan aimed at estimating South Africa's electricity demand. It takes into account how the demand for electricity will be met and the expense of such a demand. The plan refers to electricity generation and expansion programmes.

In formulating the National Development Plan, the Department of Energy gazetted the Integrated Resource Plan 2010-2030 (IRP 2010) in March 2011. This forecasted the energy demand for the 20-year period.

In October 2019, IRP 2019 was gazetted. This updates the energy forecast from 2019 to the year 2030.

The IRP is a “living document” that gets revised and updated, said Ramokgopa.

With regards to the performance of the grid over the past week, he said the unplanned capacity loss factor and partial load losses (the rate at which units are failing and not performing at optimal capacity) combined has been averaging just above 14 000MW.

“To put it into context, we have reached highs of 17 000MW of these losses. If we were to use May as our baseline, we were losing about 17 369MW. Essentially, we are better off by about 3 000MW, and that’s what we’ve been averaging.

“In fact, it looks even healthier if you were to take Saturday and today, where we’re at about 12 000MW. We have been able to introduce an improvement of about 5 000MW − 6 000MW…if you were to use the baseline of May,” the minister said.

On why stage three and four load-shedding continue despite the improvement outlined by the minister, he said the aim was to use the summer period to ramp up planned maintenance.

“We are averaging just close to 7 000MW. To put it into context, during the winter period, we were averaging about 2 500MW of planned maintenance. If you look at the period around May, it was 3 100MW. The team has taken out, of their own volition, an additional 3 000MW, compared to what the situation was in May.

“We reached a high of about 8 000MW on 8 December. That means there was an additional 4 000MW that has been taken out… It is important that we are able to do maintenance. The more you postpone maintenance, it will catch up with you and you will experience rapid failures of units.”

New Eskom CEO

The minister said the status quo shows the “true health” of the system, without “necessarily the assistance of the open cycle gas turbines”. While these are engaged at certain peaks, Ramokgopa said they are not being used at the rates at which they have previously been.

He said all stakeholders are working hard to stabilise power supply, and will do so throughout the festive season.

On the appointment of Dan Marokane as new Eskom Group CEO, Ramokgopa said leadership stability is key to the resolution of the energy crisis that is confronting the country.

“We are looking forward to the contribution of Mr Marokane, together with the totality of the executive committee of Eskom… to give additional impetus to the work that we are doing,” Ramokgopa said, highlighting there will now be “certainty in the apex office” of the power utility.

The minister thanked interim group CEO Calib Cassim for his contribution.