Tag Archives: CSIR

Be alert to the risks of legitimising a hollow process for a new electricity IRP

Daily Maverick, Richard Worthington, 13 November, 2017

Imagine that, consistent with recent statements by the new Minister of Energy, an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for electricity is released in the next week or two, with a new generation build plan that mandates nuclear procurement. What would our response be?

For argument’s sake, let’s say the plan is scaled back to no more than half the total previously deemed necessary to achieve the benefits of “fleet procurement” (the 9.6 GW contemplated for a Rosatom contract), as a concession to widespread opposition.

Since there is a requirement for consultation, the minister would need to convene some kind of public engagement. There have been calls from various stakeholders for some kind of summit on energy (or the economy more generally), so even a very hastily convened event might be presented as being responsive to stakeholder concerns, as well as fulfilling requirements for the new IRP to be tabled in Parliament subsequently. What would we do?

Unlike the Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) that covers the entire energy system, the requirements for which are explicitly set out in the Energy Act of 2008, the process for seeking common ground on a policy-adjusted plan for the electricity system, before it is tabled for parliamentary approval, is not defined. Determinations by the minister that generation capacity will be procured must, as recently determined by the High Court (Western Cape), be subject to public hearings and Nersa consideration, but the new build plan of the IRP is nevertheless treated as binding…

… However, legitimising a hollow process on an IRP that will set parameters on electricity infrastructure investment for the coming decades carries enormous risk. Like in 2010, we might be assured that it will be regularly updated, but getting this one right – or at the very least ensuring it doesn’t mandate irresponsible procurement and greatly deepen our debt – is imperative for any prospect of reducing poverty and inequality…

he public narrative that we need nuclear power to meet our commitments to climate change mitigation is false, as is clear from work already released in the IRP documentation published for comment a year ago. Robust modelling by several agencies, including the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, shows that an electricity system without nuclear can meet and exceed our emissions reduction commitment at lower cost and with higher employment than when new nuclear is included. The Energy Research Centre modelled scenarios with a range of cost assumptions and even the most optimistic pricing fails to find nuclear power offering net benefits over renewable energy options…

… With a positive objective in mind – an electricity system contributing to the well-being of all South Africans, with a net value that is positive for society as a whole and over time, when full costs and life cycles are assessed – we must be prepared to reject what might be put forward. To do this, stakeholders not accustomed to parading their interests and positioning in public need to consider how to avoid being complicit in legitimising a plan designed to serve the elite, and to start talking about taking a collective stand on electricity and economic prudence.

 

Here is the full article

 

 

New study points to 90% renewables mix being least cost by 2050

Engineering News, Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz, 15 September, 2017.

ew analysis conducted using updated cost assumptions for solar photovoltaic (PV), onshore wind and batteries shows that the share of renewable energy in an electricity mix that would also be the least cost for South Africacould grow to above 90% by 2050.

Such a portfolio, the study indicates, will be 30% cheaper than the generation mix currently outlined in the Draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) Base Case, published by the Department of Energy (DoE) in November 2016.

The analysis represents an update of the least-cost mix presented in March by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in response to the DoE’s call for public comment on the IRP Base Case.

In the March response document, the science council argued that the least-cost mix to meet a projected 2050 demand of 522 TWh would comprise more than 70% renewables, with the balance of the energy arising from coalgas and hydro. Such a mix was calculated to be R75-billion a year cheaper than the one proposed in the Base Case and included no nuclear, which made up 28% in the Base Case.

(Ed. note: What will prevail in our energy decisions – corruption and vested interests, or common sense?).

Here is the full article.

Eskom funding may be muffling dissenting voices on nuclear

EE Publishers, Micah Reddy, amaBhungane, 28 April, 2017

The lure of millions in Eskom funding appears to have muzzled two research institutions previously highly critical of the state-owned utility’s plans to procure a fleet of nuclear power stations.

In the case of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) amaBhungane understands that the CSIR’s Energy Centre has been effectively gagged since a secrecy-shrouded meeting in March this year between acting Eskom CEO Matshela Koko and his counterpart at the CSIR, Dr. Thulani Dlamini.

In the other case, the Centre for Renewable and Sustainable Energy Studies (CRSES) at Stellenbosch University withdrew comments it had submitted for publication that were highly critical of Eskom’s nuclear plans.

In an email seen by amaBhungane, CRSES director Wikus van Niekerk said: “We receive significant funding from Eskom, some from a programme where Matshela is personally involved in, and I need to be careful how I react in public not to put this at risk.”

Eskom, the CSIR and CRSES have all denied that Eskom has in any way tried to rein in independent research or debate on nuclear or renewable energy options.

Case 1: CSIR Energy Centre

Several industry insiders, who asked not to be named, raised the alarm after the CSIR Energy Centre’s head, Dr. Tobias Bischof-Niemz, suddenly pulled out of an event on South Africa’s future energy supply in early April.

They told amaBhungane that a strong rumour had emerged that at Koko’s March meeting with the CSIR chief executive, Eskom had pledged a significant sum – R100-million was mentioned – for CSIR research on technology related to nuclear energy. AmaBhungane was unable to independently verify the claim.

While there is no evidence of any untoward quid-pro-quo, the same sources noted that the CSIR Energy Centre has withdrawn from other public engagements on renewable energy and South Africa’s future energy mix.

Adding to suspicions is the reluctance of both Eskom and the CSIR to disclose any detail of the meeting between Koko and Dr Dlamini.

Both institutions declined to answer questions about who attended the meeting, what was discussed and whether Koko offered the CSIR additional funding, as rumoured.

Eskom spokesperson Khulu Phasiwe told amaBhungane the two institutions have had a long-running partnership: “CSIR and Eskom continue to enjoy a strong relationship in spite of occasional, but understandable, disagreements. Interim Group Chief Executive, Mr. Matshela Koko, meets with our partners on a continuous basis and, by their nature, these meetings are confidential.”

Phasiwe said Eskom had R30,8-million worth of “multi-year collaborative projects” underway with CSIR and another R17,5-million worth were “actively under consideration”.

The CSIR insisted the organisation “did NOT receive any payments from Eskom in order to stop any research that we are conducting,” but ignored questions about Bischof-Niemz’s non-attendance at the April event where he was scheduled to give a presentation on renewable energy.

Up to now the CSIR Energy Centre has been vocal about its research on South Africa’s optimal energy mix, which suggested that the price of renewables had dropped to the point where government’s plan to procure 9,600 MW of nuclear power did not make financial sense.

By contrast, the CSIR’s recent formal response to the Department of Energy’s latest draft energy policy – the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) – was quietly placed on the CSIR website in early April without publicity or further commentary.

Asked about this, CSIR spokesperson Tendani Tsedu said: “The organisation will not comment any further on the submission made to the DoE since the CSIR submission is already public information as indicated above. This will also allow the DoE to conclude its internal processes towards the finalisation of the IRP.”

Last year the CSIR Energy Centre began publishing the findings of its studies into South Africa’s future energy scenarios.

The groundbreaking research showed a strong preference for renewable energy and posed a major challenge to the case for nuclear, of which Eskom has been a strong proponent.

The results of the research were widely cited and the CSIR Energy Centre’s staff presented their findings at conferences, seminars and business and technical briefings. They also did not shy away from voicing critical opinions on energy matters in the media.

But sources close to the CSIR Energy Centre told amaBhungane that the Centre’s staff appear to have been muzzled and are now avoiding public engagements on their renewables and IRP-related research.

According to Dudley Baylis, energy director of Bridge Capital – one of the organisations involved in the April event where Bischof-Niemz was due to speak – the CSIR Energy Centre informed the organisers at the last minute that they were “unable to share their energy scenario work”.

Other sources say that the CSIR Energy Centre has recently had to cancel similar events and media interviews related to energy systems, and that Bischof-Niemz is subject to a virtual gagging order by CSIR’s management.

Approached for comment, Bischof-Niemz referred amaBhungane to the CSIR’s communications manager.

Here is the full article

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)

Here is the full article

Revealed: The CSIR’s outlook for South Africa’s future electricity mix

Chris Yelland, The Daily Maverick, 3 November, 2016.

(EGI-SA contributor note – This is a MUST READ!)

In the absence of an update to the outdated national Integrated Resource Plan for Electricity, IRP2010-2030, the CSIR Energy Centre has presented its own study to re-optimise the South African power capacity and energy mix from 2016 to 2040. By CHRIS YELLAND, investigative editor, EE Publishers.

The CSIR study by Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz, Jarrad Wright, Joanne Calitz and Crescent Mushwana was presented at the Windaba 2016 conference in Cape Town on November 3, 2016.

The capacity and energy mix re-optimisation by the CSIR takes into account the considerably lower electricity demand forecast for the years ahead, the significantly reduced cost of electricity from solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind capacity, and South Africa’s international commitments to constrain CO2 emissions following the country’s “peak-plateau-decline” objectives.

Following a similar modeling exercise, and using the same software platform as that used by the Department of Energy and Eskom planners to prepare the IRP, the CSIR study in effect does what the long-awaited 2016 IRP Update should have done ages ago.

As such, the CSIR presents what it calculates to be the re-optimised, least-cost mix for new electricity generation capacity technologies for the years ahead to 2040, taking into account and updating all the necessary economic, electricity demand, technology cost and other assumptions.

 

Fig 1: Energy mix for ‘Business as Usual’ vs. ‘Re-optimised’ scenario from 2016 to 2040 (Source: CSIR)

On September 15, 2016, at the second meeting of the Ministerial Advisory Council on Energy (MACE) since it was first conceived in June 2014, Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson presented the 2016 Draft IRP Update report to her advisory forum of energy experts and stakeholders.

The minister sought MACE’s endorsement of the draft before its submission to the Cabinet, after which the minister indicated that it would be made available publicly for wider input and comment through a public promulgation process.

However, instead of simply endorsing the 2016 Draft IRP Update, the advisory body established a subcommittee comprising Prof Anton Eberhard, Dr Tobias Bischof-Niemz, Prof Johan van Dyk and Mr Mike Levington to analyse it fully, and to report back to MACE and the minister with its recommendations. In the meantime, submission of the 2016 Draft IRP Update to Cabinet and the public was delayed.

It is understood that the final recommendations of the MACE subcommittee were presented to MACE earlier this week.

In addition to updating the economic, electricity demand, technology cost and other assumptions, the CSIR study has removed the artificial capacity delivery constraints of approximately 1,000 MW per annum for solar PV, and 1,600 MW per annum for wind that had been applied in IRP2010-2030 and the 2013 Draft IRP Update (which was never accepted by the Cabinet), as well as the wind and solar PV restraints that exist in the 2016 Draft IRP Update.

Fig. 2: Capacity mix for ‘Business as Usual’ vs. ‘Re-optimised’ scenario from 2016 to 2040 (Source: CSIR)

The CSIR study shows that without these artificial and arbitrary annual constraints on the delivery of new solar PV and wind capacity, together with the reduced electricity demand forecast and the reduced wind and solar PV costs, the need for new coal and new nuclear power is completely removed from the re-optimised, least-cost mix for the years ahead to 2040.

At the same time, the increased role of PV, wind and gas in place of new coal and nuclear power in the re-optimised, least-cost mix, and the declining role of coal as Eskom’s old, coal-fired generation plant is retired, results in CO2 emissions that are some 60% lower than that of the “business as usual” scenario based on the 2016 Draft IRP Update assumptions.

Similarly, the avoidance of new coal power in the re-optimised, least-cost mix, and the declining role of coal as Eskom’s old, coal-fired generation plant is retired, results in a water usage some 60% lower than that of the “business as usual” scenario, with a saving of 40-billion litres of water per annum by 2040.

Here is the link to the full article