Power sector blueprint ‘imminent’

South Africa’s much-awaited policy blueprint for the power sector, the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), will be available soon.

This was the word from Jeff Radebe, the minister of energy, who despite being pressed for a specific date remained mum on when exactly the document would be available.

“It will be concluded imminently,” was all he was willing to say on the subject relenting to a final “available very soon”.

“We are still engaging the social partners at Nedlac,” said Radebe after which it needs to be approved by Cabinet.

The IRP will define a tangible plan for energy security in South Africa that also enables the participation of Independent Power Producers (IPP) side by side with Eskom and municipalities.

Radebe said this was a critical move forward as Eskom alone could not meet the power capacity requirements in the country any more.

“We estimate that the capacity extension under the IRP will cost in excess of R1 trillion in the period up to 2030, including the new power plants plus the requisite transmission and distribution infrastructure,” he said.

“The draft IRP confirms that the decade starting in 2030 will require significant commissioning of new generation capacity. This happens at a time when Eskom’s balance sheet is at its weakest in a long time.

“We need to arrest the steady decline in economic activity coupled with rising electricity tariffs that has tended to put Eskom in an untenable situation, characterised by increasing debt and increasing tariffs. We need to address these issues so as to build infrastructure timeously to meet the energy demands required for our industrialisation.”

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