Category Archives: DoE

SA’s first climate change suit to set important precedent

LegalBrief, 7 March, 2017.

Ironically, as SA’s first climate change lawsuit kicked off last week, the defendants were forced into taking a position they do not support, mostly because they lack the capacity to enforce legislation, writes Legalbrief.  The case began last week in the Gauteng High Court (Pretoria), with Earthlife Africa asking the court to revoke the environmental impact assessment for the proposed privately run Thabametsi power station near Lephalale in Limpopo, notes a Pretoria News report. The issue before court is whether it is necessary to properly assess the climate change impacts of a proposed coal-fired power station, before environmental authorisation is granted in terms of the National Environmental Management Act (Nema). Advocate Steven Budlender, acting for Earthlife Africa, told Judge John Murphy that if the answer is yes, this case must succeed ‘because environmental authorisation was granted without any proper climate change assessment having been done’. The report notes the case concerns the proposed 1200 MW coal-fired power station, which will be in operation until at least 2061. Budlender argued that a climate change impact assessment required, at the very least, an assessment of the extent to which a proposed coal-fired power station will contribute to climate change over its lifetime, by quantifying its greenhouse gas emissions during construction, operation and decommissioning. Environment Minister Edna Molewa subsequently agreed that the climate change impact of the power station had not been properly addressed and found that it was necessary for Thabametsi to conduct a full climate change impact assessment regarding the power station. Molewa, however, proceeded to uphold the environmental authorisation and merely required Thabametsi to complete a climate change impact assessment. Budlender said in doing this, the Minister acted unlawfully and undermined the purpose of the climate change impact assessment and the environmental authorisation process.

Full Pretoria News report


Opposing the application for the Minister and her department, Advocate Gilbert Marcus SC argued there was no provision in domestic legislation expressly stipulating a climate change impact assessment must be conducted before the granting of an environmental authorisation. He pointed out that the government was in any event taking extensive steps to address the issue of climate change. Earthlife lawyer Nicole Loser highlighted SA’s vulnerability to climate change, according to an SABC News report. ‘We have a national climate change response policy, which acknowledges that SA is a country extremely vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Some of the examples of this kind of impact are water scarcity. The policy acknowledges that we will be suffering from increased drought, increase flooding, extreme weather patterns. We will also be seeing increased temperature. These are some of the things that we are already seeing and climate change is going to make this worse,’ she is quoted as saying.

Full SABC News report

Vietnam cancels nuclear reactor deal: a lesson for South Africa

David Fig in EE Publishers, 6 March, 2017.

Vietnam recently announced that it would be cancelling its contract to buy two nuclear reactors from Rosatom, the Russian nuclear vendor. The decision was subsequently ratified by the Vietnamese National Assembly in Hanoi. The vice-chair of the parliamentary committee on science, technology and environment, Le Hong Tinh, has stated clearly that the nuclear programme would not be continued.

After the purchase of the two Russian reactors, Vietnam was due to buy a further two from Japan. These plants would have been the socialist republic’s first power reactors. The orders were placed at a time of economic boom in the country during 2009 and 2010. But the more recent downturn in economic activity, the drop in electricity demand, and the doubling of the overnight cost of the reactors to $18-billion, caused the government to think again…


Here is the full article

Well-positioned as a partner in IPPPP

EE Publishers, 1 March, 2017.

Renewable energy, including wind and solar, benefits South Africa significantly. The country’s 2010 Integrated Resource Plan calls for the generation capacity of 17 800 MW from renewable energy sources by 2030. South Africa’s energy market has been extremely active and the Department of Energy, through the Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme, by the end of its Round 4 Expedited Window, will have awarded around 8000 MW of generation capacity. The Department of Energy called for expressions of interest, by the 20th of June, from potential strategic partners to State-Owned Companies for 600 MW of new generation capacity from gas. One such strategic partner is DRA, which has been involved in several such power projects across the African continent since 2001. One of the major projects DRA has worked on was the Arcelor-Mittal wind farm project in Saldanha on the West Coast. The project, since cancelled, was initially commissioned by iWEC Isivunguvungu and was to include the design of protection systems for an embedded generator installation.

Here is the article

Mike musings: short term plans and long term consequences

Engineering News, 15 February, 2017.

by Mike Rycoft, features editor, EE Publishers

The great event of the 2016, namely the publication of the IRP 2016, has finally happened, and the plan has received both praise and criticism from many quarters. The media briefing went into some detail of how the plan was constructed and all the factors taken into account. Without discussing the plan itself, I would like to consider the complexity of compiling such a plan, which runs up until 2050, some 33 years in the future. One could ask why it is necessary to look so far into the future, as uncertainty increases with time. In fact one commentator made the statement that the only certainty in long term planning is the laws of science. The construction of such a plan must be a daunting task, as both over- and under-provision are equally critical.

Long term planning for demand and capacity has come under question in the last year, and the current popular opinion is that as we cannot predict demand in the long term and should change our plans to follow short term trends. Thinking seems to favour short term plans that could follow demand more closely, and which would be based on smaller distributed generation plant close to load centres rather than large centralised units. This is probably influenced by the experience of Medupi and other large systems…

Here is the full article

South Africa: Integrated Resource Plan clear for Q3

ESI Africa, 15 February, 2017.

On Tuesday, an official from the department of energy said that the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) should be confirmed in Q3 2017.

Engineering News reported that the IRP finalisation is dependent on Cabinet’s reception of the energy blueprint.

According to the DoE’s director general, Ompi Aphane: “It will not be before June this year, but it might be by July, August. But then if Cabinet says go back and consult more, then that is in the hands of Cabinet.”

Integrated Resource Plan under review

Addressing parliament’s portfolio committee on energy, Aphane said the department had received 63 presentations in nine public meetings — one in each province — since the draft plan was tabled, along with the draft Integrated Energy Plan, Engineering News reported.

The department of energy’s Jacob Mbele said: “Based on the outputs from these committees they were able to include externalities that were not there in the first drafts.”

Media reported that energy experts, including a ministerial advisory committee, have maintained the cheapest energy mix would not include building more nuclear reactors.

“Once we have taken all inputs from the public participation process into account the base case scenario will look different,” Aphane said.

Outlining the IRP

In November 2016, South African energy minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, delivered a speech outlining the Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) and Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) processes, including a reflection on the key aspects of the processes.

Joemat-Pettersson explained: “Since the promulgation of the IRP 2010-30 there has been a number of developments in the energy sector, the country and the region, which necessitate that we review and update the plan.

“Some of the developments or changes includes, additional capacity that has come online, demand lower than envisaged in IRP 2010-30, draught in neighbouring countries experiencing resulting electricity shortage, reduced Eskom plant performance and changes in technology costs.”

She added: “The IRP update process is different from the IRP 2010-30 development processes in a sense that the update process is not zero based but use the from the promulgated policy adjusted IRP 2010-30 as a reference point.

(Ed. note: This is ominous! So if the IRP2010 was flawed, which it patently was – energy demand much too high, unbalanced cost assumptions – then our minister aims to continue with the flawed basis. )

“The IRP development and update process as in the case of the IEP aims to balance similar objectives which are; security of supply, cost of electricity, job creation and localisation, minimal negative environmental impact, minimal water usage, to diversity of supply sources (energy mix) and promotion of energy access.

“Against these objectives the Department set four key milestones in regard to the development of the IRP, which are (1) settling the key assumptions, (2) developing a Base-Case, (3) modeling and analysing the Scenarios and sensitivities, and finally (4) developing the final plan taking into account the various scenarios and policy positions.”

(Ed. note: Also dangerous. If the base case has 9 600 MW of nuclear forced in, and scenarios and sensitivities don’t include a completely unconstrained case – allowing unlimited nuclear and renewable energy – we might never see the true savings to be made by going the renewable energy route rather than the forced nuclear route.)

The IRP 2016 update was welcomed by industry with comments from the South African Independent Power Producer Association (SAIPPA), the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) and the South African Renewable Energy Council (SAREC).


Here’s the link to the article