Category Archives: IRP

Integrated Resource Plan

Structure of the market needs to be revised to ensure least-cost energy

BusinessDay, Anton Eberhard, 9 May, 2017

The battle for SA’s nuclear and energy future is not over. While many South Africans welcomed the decision by the High Court in Cape Town setting aside international nuclear energy treaties and declaring the government’s nuclear procurement programme unlawful and unconstitutional, President Jacob Zuma and his allies have not given up. Ultimately, the structure of SA’s power market will need to change to ensure an optimal and least-cost energy mix.

Reforming the power sector will be the more important struggle.

Unfortunately, the court’s nuclear decisions were essentially around procedural issues and it declined to rule on substantive matters, such as the rationality of procuring nuclear power when the government’s own updated electricity plan says it is not needed.

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A Summary of The Nuclear Deal, Why It Failed and What This Means For South Africa.

Global Carbon Exchange, 5 May, 2017

Everyone should know that, for now anyway, the programme has effectively been sent back to the drawing board (hopefully not that same one that “crafted” the last programme).

Perhaps a bit of history is needed to get to grips with all the failings of the Nuclear Programme.

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CSIR proposes electricity mix for IRP 2016 which excludes nuclear power

Daily Maverick, Jarrad G. Wright, Tobias Bischof-Niemz, Joanne Calitz, Crescent Mushwana, Robbie van Heerden and Mamahloko Senatla, CSIR, 2 May, 2017

As part of the IRP update process, the DoE engages in a multi-stage stakeholder engagement process (including public engagements) to ensure all affected stakeholders are consulted including national and local government, business, organised labour and civil society. This document contains the CSIR’s formal comments on the draft IRP 2016.

The CSIR determined the least cost, unconstrained electricity mix by 2050 as input into the IRP 2016 public consultation process. A conservative approach is always taken where pessimistic assumptions for new technologies and optimistic assumptions for established technologies are always made. More specifically; conventional technologies (coal, nuclear, gas Capex) were as per IRP 2016, stationary storage technologies (batteries) were as per IRP 2016, natural gas fuel costs were assumed slightly more expensive than IRP 2016, solar PV was aligned with original IRP 2010 cost assumptions while wind is kept constant into the future at the latest South African REIPPPP result (by 2030/2040/2050). Job numbers were also conservative (from McKinsey study commissioned by the DoE in the context of the Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) but adjusting upwards for coal power generation
and coal mining.

(Ed. note: The CSIR uses the same energy modeling software – Plexos – as is used by the DOE and Eskom)

The result of this is that it is least cost for any new investment in the power sector to be solar PV, wind or flexible power. Solar PV, wind and flexible power generators (eg gas, CSP, hydro, biogas) are the cheapest new-build mix. There is no technical limitation to solar PV and wind penetration over the planning horizon until 2050. A >70% renewable energy share by 2050 is cost optimal, replacing all plants that decommission over time and meeting new demand with the new optimal mix.

(Ed. note: The CSIR modeling does not exclude any specific technology, meaning that nuclear was not chosen by the model because it was too expensive and was unnecessary)

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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…


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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…

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