PV association welcomes draft IRP 2018

The South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) welcomes the long-awaited draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) based on rational energy planning which provides a solid foundation to a sustainable future. The IRP was finally approved by parliament on 22 August 2018 and energy minister Jeff Radebe released the plan for public review and commentary five days later. South Africa is currently in an energy transition and the rational energy plan will be the cornerstone of its success. The IRP 2018 in its draft format has however failed to address the current transition by delaying this to the medium term.

Yet SAPVIA is grateful to see the least-cost energy mix being a crucial component of the revised IRP, especially given the prior consultation by the Department of Energy to develop and solicit inputs to the IRP 2018. The following elements of IRP 2018 however deserve specific mention and commentary:

  • The minister mentioned specifically that IRP 2018 is published with the understanding of a “just transition” to responding to a changing electricity industry landscape. This just transition should be holistic in nature to factor in all other critical issues faced by the power generation industry, such as accurate summation of jobs that the industry will generate.
  • IRP 2018 does not mention the Round 5 bid window of IPP procurement initiatives, yet the minister promulgated this round of procurement.
  • IRP 2018 makes no mention of the Smalls Programme that was set up and preferred bidders announced. Clarity on the way forward for these projects must be prioritised.
  • The small-scale embedded generation market deserves mention and quantification because growth in this sector has spiked and it is important to weigh this growth against projected electricity demand. It is SAPVIA’s belief that the 200 MW allocation is insufficient to address the needs of this market segment.
  • IRP 2018 mentions the consistent annual procurement of new capacity from various energy sources but in terms of Table 7 there seems to be a lag period from 2022 – 2025 where the committed PV capacity ends and new additional capacity will be procured. This lag period of about three years doesn’t bode well for the PV industry and will not do justice to the consistent growth required for the industry to support job creation.
  • IRP 2018 clearly separates of the decommissioning of Eskom’s coal-fired plants and the new build programme, providing justification and quantification of the decommissioning of coal plants will impact energy demand; as this could impact the planned capacity to procure in terms of the new energy mix.

However, SAPVIA welcomes the plan’s pragmatic, scenarios-based planning approach and focus on critical issues such as the carbon dioxide emissions constraint and the electricity demand scenario which is crucial for justifying further energy procurement. The association remains confident that renewables provide for a sustainable energy source, which is why it also supports government’s effort to test and consider imposing an annual build limit in terms of renewables, on the provision that the planned total installed capacity until 2030 is not impacted.

The association SAPVIA will assess IRP 2018 through stakeholder engagement and will comment accordingly within the proposed 60-day period provided for by the Department of Energy.

Contact Kim Thomas, SAPVIA, Tel  021 200-5856, kim@sapvia.co.za

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Source: EE plublishers

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