South Africa must use carbon budget strategically
The Department of Energy is busy drafting the second Integrated Resource Plan (IRP2), which will outline South Africa’s electricity generation choices for the next 20 years, considering sustainability, affordability, accessibility, security of supply and environmental impact.
“We need clarity on how and when decisions will be made, including what we assume as our share of the ‘carbon space’, as it was described by Minister Sonjica at the recent Green Economy Summit.” said Worthington.
Following a detailed explanation of the IRP2 process and the information tabled to date, by acting Deputy Director General Ompie Aphane, WWF welcomed the consultation but noted disappointment at the confusing and incomplete nature of documentation provided to date. In particular, detail was requested regarding the vital “decision-making trees” that will be developed, “with time-lines [that] indicate the key decision points where projects have to be approved or alternatives considered when assumptions do not materialise.” as stated by the Department.
“Beyond this initial scoping of perspectives and the kind of parameters that will be considered, consultation of stakeholders must include discussion of a full set of the actual values to be used in the modelling exercise. We need to know how the costs sensitivity studies will be used,” Worthington said.
“Whether the plan will provide for a change in technology choice if, for example, the terms of a proposed contract for a fleet of nuclear power plants were to allow for costs that end up double the benchmark costs used in producing scenarios.
“It is also important to set a socially-oriented discount rate, consistent with our job creation imperatives and not favouring further lock-in to carbon-intensive infrastructure.”
Building on the 2008 research study showing how electricity could be cheaper with 15% of supply sourced from renewable energy by 2020, WWF presented an analysis of a high renewable energy scenario, compared to a fossil- and nuclear- intensive scenario, using the SNAPP Tool – Sustainable National Accessible Power Planning.
“We believe that if South Africa is to take up a competitive position within the low-carbon re-industrialisation that is required, if we are to have better than half a chance of avoiding runaway climate change, we should be striving to source half our electricity from renewable sources by 2030.” commented Worthington.
“This is consistent with the pro-jobs development strategy adopted by Cabinet and with the statement by President Zuma, two weeks ago, that: ‘We have no choice but to develop a green economy’”.