Power plan to cater for all – Mantashe
There is no need for competing power technologies to go to war as the revised Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) – SA’s energy blueprint – will make space for all, mineral resources and energy minister Gwede Mantashe has said.
Speaking at the Windaba 2019 annual conference in Cape Town on Tuesday, Mantashe said the plan would be taken to the cabinet on Wednesday next week. If it goes through, it will be gazetted and “there will be certainty”.
The long-awaited plan has been fiercely debated.
In the last publicly available draft version, the least-cost model favoured only wind, solar and gas in the mix, but policy interventions ensured that a great deal of coal-fired power generation remains in the IRP, which projects power supply up to 2050.
Mantashe said SA was committed to a sustainable energy mix that was modular and affordable.
Under the government’s renewable energy independent power producers (IPP) procurement programme, green power now comprises 4.5% of SA’s energy supply.
While more green power is committed to in the IRP, Mantashe warned that the renewable power industry had to make a contribution to SA in terms of ownership and manufacturing – otherwise “there is an inherent problem”.
Although seen as a coal fundamentalist, Mantashe told delegates he was rather a fundamentalist about security of energy supply.
Abandoning coal power outright would see people breathe fresh air in darkness.
Clean-coal technologies and other innovations would help SA continue to use coal but in an environmentally responsible manner, he said.
Mantashe is the first energy minister to address the renewable energy conference in more than four years.
“It has been a long time since we have had a minister among us,” SA Wind Energy Association CEO Ntombifuthi Ntuli said.
“It gives is hope there is going to be continuity in this industry.”