Of the 17800 MW to be generated by renewables, 8400 MW would be derived from photovoltaic solar, 1000 MW from concentrated solar power and 8400 MW from wind.
The Cabinet has sharply increased the share that it intends renewable energy will contribute to new electricity generation over the next 20 years, from 30% to 42%.
The change followed intense public discussions on the draft integrated resource plan, which was criticised by opposition parties and environmental groups for making insufficient provision for renewable energy. South Africa has committed to reducing carbon emissions from 2015, but also wants to increase economic growth. The move from coal-based electricity generation to renewables will come at considerable cost to users.
Independent Democrats spokesman on energy Lance Greyling welcomed the increase yesterday, but said the government should set more ambitious targets for renewable energy. Democratic Alliance energy spokesman Sejamothopo Motau also welcomed the increase, but urged the government to ensure it was achieved.
The Cabinet adopted the revised plan this week, allowing the government to begin planning SA’s energy needs after 2018 when the country will again face supply constraints unless new capacity is brought on stream. Nuclear power plants are part of the mix, but would now contribute 23% of new energy generation, down from the initial 25% in the integrated resource plan.
Earlier this week Eskom chief financial officer Paul O’Flaherty said decisions on the build programme for 2018 and onwards would have to be taken this year if the capacity were to be developed meet the country’s needs. Department of Energy director-general Nelisiwe Magubane confirmed at a media briefing yesterday that the Cabinet would begin deliberations soon on the build programme and a decision would be finalised by the end of the year.
The Cabinet had to decide what nuclear technology would be used, which would determine the number of plants constructed and the cost. Ms Magubane said the Cabinet had decided to accelerate the generation of renewable energy in line with the New Growth Path which emphasised the development of a green economy.
Under the plan adopted, new coal-derived energy will fall from 16% to 15%, imported hydropower from 9% to 6% and open cycle gas turbines for peaking power from 15% to 9%. Imported gas would be increased from 5% to 6%. Of the 17800 MW to be generated by renewables, 8400 MW would be derived from photovoltaic solar, 1000 MW from concentrated solar power and 8400 MW from wind.
The Cabinet also approved the Independent System and Market Operator Bill for tabling to Parliament, which paves the way for the introduction of independent power producers. The government intends that 30% of new power generation should come from independent producers. As an interim measure, a buying and scheduling office would be an independent ring-fenced unit in Eskom. After the legislation is passed, it would be a separate body with its own board.