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Energy Action Plan is bearing fruit – DMRE DG

Director-General of the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy Jacob Mbele said the current prolonged period without loadshedding is an “indication that the Energy Action Plan (EAP) is bearing fruit and beginning to resolve the energy security in the country.”

“The Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) and EAP remain the government’s roadmap guiding our actions to ensure security while dealing with the energy transition and sustainability issues.

“I want to take the opportunity to commend Eskom and its leadership for the great work they are doing in this year. Keep on doing what you are doing because it seems to be working and solving the problem,” said Mbele in a keynote address opening Enlit Africa in Cape Town on Tuesday.

He said progress continues on fast-tracking procurement of new generation in line with the IRP2019 which instructs the South Africa government to procure up to 30GW of new generation capacity from a range of sources, including renewable energy, gas, battery storage, coal and nuclear.

“This excludes about 5GW of determinations already issued to Eskom for other programmes on gas, renewables and battery storage.

“The DMRE through the IPP Office has, to date, procured new generation capacity of 18,000MW through various bid windows such as the RMIPPPP in 2020, Bid Window 1 of gas and Bid Window 3 of battery storage.

“These programmes are at various stages of implementation and we should see the power coming online by the end of the year and the beginning of next year,” said Mbele.

Updating IRP for action in energy landscape

While he acknowledged that grid constraints hamper the ability of new generation to come online, Mbele preferred to concentrate on the forthcoming enactment of the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill.

“This Bill will enable the realisation of a competitive market for electricity which will go a long way to ensuring investment into the sector is secured,” said Mbele.

The DMRE Director-General said they have completed a review of more than 4,500 submissions on the updating of the IRP, with about 127 of those submissions being substantive.

“Work is underway to revise the modelling and analysis of the new and revised plan.”

He reminded that the IRP is developed considering the “energy trilemma” – energy security, affordability and sustainability – which he has come to realise is an issue facing all countries around the world.

“It is important to approach the trilemma in a holistic and integrated manner. Prioritising one over the other will compromise other elements.”

“For us, energy security considerations are more than just about matching supply and demand, it is also about ensuring power system adequacy – the ability of the system to react promptly to sudden changes in supply and demand.”

This is why, said Mbele, energy systems must consist of a mix of energy resources [as] they play different roles.

Energy Action Plan – moving country beyond immediate challenges

He said the DMRE believes improving the performance of the Eskom power fleet remains key to South Africa getting beyond the challenges it currently faces.

Hence the DMRE will continue to advocate for:

  • The continued and intensified efforts to improve the EAF;
  • Delaying the shutdown of coal plants in order to retain currently available despatchability;
  • Accelerating additional despatchable options such as gas-to-power in addition to non-despatchable power by the state as well as business; and
  • The need to extend the lifespan of Koeberg which has served the country well; among others.

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