Cabinet approves long-awaited energy plan


Cabinet has approved a new plan mapping out the energy mix for the country up until 2030.

According to a Cabinet statement issued on Thursday, the Integrated Resources Plan 2019 will be gazetted and made available on the department of mineral resources website. No date was given, but energy expert and advisor on the Presidential Sustainability Task Team for Eskom, Anton Eberhard said in a tweet on Wednesday night that the plan would be gazetted on Friday.

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe will on Friday brief media on the plan.

The IRP is the national electricity infrastructure development plan. It sets out the future of energy generation and includes projections for electricity demand, cost estimates, and sources of power, Fin24 previously reported. According to government, the plan is based on a least-cost electricity supply and demand balance. It takes into account security of supply and the environment.

Cabinet had first approved a draft IRP2018 in August 2018 – ahead of public consultations that took place between September and November 2018. "Most of the inputs received from the public, academics, experts from the energy sector and relevant stakeholders such as the National Economic Development and Labour Council and the Portfolio Committee on Energy, were included into the IRP2019," Cabinet said.

The 2019 plan proposes nine interventions for the country to respond to energy needs for the next decade. "The interventions draw from the current baseline of the demand and supply of the country’s energy and the country’s international obligations to the minimum emission standards," the statement read. No details were given on what the nine interventions are.

The plan forms part of the country's pursuit of a diversified energy mix, with reduced reliance on primary energy sources like coal. "It will be revised in line with the changing energy sector environment," Cabinet said.

Fin24 has previously reported that the plan promotes the inclusion of renewables, the decommissioning of coal plants and sets out government's position on nuclear energy.

The announcement comes just as Eskom reintroduced load shedding. On Wednesday Eskom issued a statement indicating stage 2 load shedding would be implemented due to a shortage of generation capacity. Load shedding is set to continue on Thursday, between 09:00 and 23:00.

Stage 2 load shedding allows for 2 000 MW of power to be shed on a rotational basis. Stage 1 is the "lightest" load shedding schedule, while during Stage 4, up to 4 000 MW of power can be shed.

Eskom has said that capacity was affected by the failure of a conveyor belt, on Saturday October 12,  carrying coal from Grootgeluk coal mine to Medupi Power station in Limpopo. Eskom spokesperson Dikatso told Fin24 that the failure of the conveyor belt is unexpected" and that Eskom is investigating the cause. It would take about a week to repair the conveyor belt, she said.

Eskom has resorted to transporting coal manually, using bulldozers, which only have capacity for half as much coal than can be carried by the conveyor belt, Mothae added.

Apart from the broken conveyor belt, five generating units are down due to boiler tube leaks, Fin24 reported.

Eskom has had to rely on open cycle gas turbine to meet energy demands. Although on Wednesday it stated that its stocks of diesel - which is required to run the open cycle gas turbines - is running low. Mothae on Thursday updated Fin24 that diesel levels were improving after Eskom reached out to its suppliers for assistance.

Load shedding has also extended to Zimbabwe.

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