South Africa have announced that over the next decade, the nation’s electricity generation will be produced through a mix of renewable energy and coal power. This announcement came as power cuts for the country enter their third day.
The integrated resource plan which has been published replaces an outdated blueprint which had not been changed for almost 10 years. This shows the neglect the energy sector in South Africa has been facing and is in much need of investment. The new integrated resource plan will hopefully be a catalyst for economic growth.
The recent power cuts that South Africa have been facing recently have shown the weaknesses in the energy sector. The president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, is faced with the tax of fixing these issues and saving the state power utility Eskom which is currently struggling.
Eskom is struggling due to a number of reasons. Some of the companies generating units have been encountering unplanned breakdowns which are showing the fragility of the countries energy sector. Eskom itself is in massive debts of £23.25 Billion and is constantly being bailed out by the government just so it can survive. In addition, Eskom have been facing difficulties with the Medupi power station. Three of the station’s units have recently been offline due to issues handling the ash and coal.
Under the new energy plan, it is hoped that new coal power will produce 1500 megawatts of power, solar power to produce 6000 megawatts, 2500 megawatts from hydropower, wind farms generating a further 14400 megawatts and natural gas power plants producing 3000 megawatts. In total this is a planned power production of 27400 megawatts.
At this current moment in time, 80% of South Africa’s power generated comes from coal power plants. This means that South Africa is in the top 20 of carbon dioxide producers in the world. The plan is that by 2030 just less than 60% of the country’s electricity will come from coal power plants, with majority of the rest being from renewable sources and around 1% from diesel and gas.
Investment will also be going towards the Koeberg nuclear power plant to increase its lifetime, however there are no other plans stated to invest in any other new or existing nuclear power plants.
Some people, however, believe that this plan has been created to appease every interest group. This is because each interest group has been given some new planned capacity. One interest group that falls under this is coal power plants. South Africa already has a lot of plants and should be planning on to diversify where their electricity is produced from and not using as much coal powered plants. Especially as climate change becomes a more pressing issue. Some believe that the new coal plants may never come to anything due to the fact a lot of banks are becoming more reluctant to lend to coal power plants, due to climate change.