WWF responds to the Integrated Resource Plan 2019 | WWF South Africa

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WWF responds to the Integrated Resource Plan 2019

WWF welcomes the finalisation of the Integrated Resource Plan 2019 and hopes that it will be a ‘living plan’ going forward.

WWF supports the explicit emphasis on just transition (in section 5.3.2 of the IRP 2019) and welcomes the recognition of the need to have plans and interventions in place to mitigate against any adverse impacts of plant retirement programme.

We also welcome the unambiguous plan for the decommissioning of coal plants along with the unbundling of Eskom, an increase in renewable energy in the mix and recognition of shifting investment trends in the power sector away from coal.

Of concern, however, are plans to introduce new coal capacity in South Africa’s energy mix as well as the apparent reluctance to communicate a clear “no” to new nuclear capacity additions after 2030. Also worrying is the IRP’s dependence on the outdated Peak Plateau Decline (PPD) framework which is in need of urgent revision.

This underwhelming IRP fails to respond to the urgency of the climate crisis as outlined in recent reports by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Further it is inadequate in its recognition of the role that cities can play in responding to the electricity crisis in the country and the inability of Eskom to comply with the minimum emission standard over time.

We are also worried about some of the assumptions that have found their way into the IRP, key being:

  • The projected growth rate of 4%,
  • The capability of the state to attract investment for constructing new coal power plants,
  • And that coal can be made clean by investing in Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies.

We do not think these are wise policy assumptions.

Given the constrained fiscal situation that government finds itself in, it is disconcerting that there is little evidence of coming to terms with the trade-offs that need to be confronted when deciding where to direct government spend.

Rather than throwing money at new coal (which even the IRP identifies as an increasingly unattractive investment option for financial institutions) and ‘no-regret’ nuclear, funding should much rather be allocated to address the poor environmental performance of existing coal power plants, and investment in grid capacity and storage to absorb and manage increased renewable energy penetration.

At the launch on Friday, the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe appealed for investment in the energy sector. We invite the government to ponder whether this IRP is sufficiently attractive for investors.

Prabhat Upadhyaya, Senior Policy Analyst, WWF SA, commented: “The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s three special reports released in the last year emphasise that time is of essence in tackling the climate crisis. Unfortunately, the IRP continues to operate under the illusion that we have plenty of time to act. It is not sufficiently ambitious to respond to the climate crisis. Appetite amongst investors to fund coal addiction anywhere in the world is fast dwindling. South Africa is currently finding it hard to attract investors and new coal in the future energy mix will not make it any easier. The IRP cannot be implemented in a vacuum.”

Louise Scholtz, Urban Futures Manager, WWF SA, said: “It cannot be emphasised enough that cities and metros with good investment ratings should be enabled to play a much larger role in both generating and procuring their own renewable energy. Hopefully, the planned unbundling and the review of Eskom’s role as buyer under section 34 opens up new opportunities for sub-national government to procure renewable energy directly under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme.”

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