The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the eventual and long overdue approval of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) by Cabinet. We do, however, call for the immediate review thereof because it is already outdated as it is based on dated assumptions and data. Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe is mandated to promulgate a new IRP every two years. The last one was in 2010, and the newly approved version has been in draft since 2016.
We will write to Minister Mantashe in this regard, and will also request that the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy provide a time frame for the ongoing and regular review of the IRP.
The IRP is South Africa’s blueprint for how electricity will be generated and sourced. It is meant to provide a framework for a just energy transition, including the use of renewable sources of supply, and the management of the national grid.
Cabinet’s approval of the IRP follows Eskom’s implementation of stage 2 rolling blackouts on Tuesday which plunged the country into darkness – impacting economic activity and matric exams.
It is clearer than ever that Eskom’s monopolistic hold on South Africa’s electricity sector is hampering the country’s progress due to its inefficiencies. Energy security in South Africa requires a diverse mix of supply and the bringing on board of Independent Power Producers (IPPs).
We need to reduce our reliance on coal as our primary source of power and improve our carbon emissions control. It is for this reason that we need to urgently open a new bid window for IPPs (and more specifically renewable IPP’s) in order to ensure a more diverse, clean, competitive and efficient energy sector. We also need to address demand management through smart grid technologies and the roll-out of the national solar water heater programme, which has ground to an ignoble halt and is far behind its targeted schedule.
South Africa must pursue a “least cost” option for electricity supply if there is to be any hope of placing our economy on a stable footing.
Renewable energy is the future and SA cannot be left behind.
The country needs a diverse energy mix. This is the only way our economy stands any chance of recovery.