• South Africa has officially published its IRP 2019 in the official gazette after securing approval from the cabinet
  • By the year 2030, it will target to achieve an additional 6 GW of solar PV along with other power generating technologies foremost among which is wind power with 14.4 GW aimed for
  • New capacity addition is spaced out through to 2030 for solar PV, but there is no new addition during 2024, 2026 and 2027 which SAPVIA says it will discuss with the government to ensure there is continuity in the market
  • Several coal power plants will be decommissioned by 2030, but this fossil fuel will continue to account for 59% of cumulative energy mix

The Government of South Africa has approved and published the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2019  in the official gazette, putting the country firmly en route to becoming self-sufficient and sustainable in its energy mix in the future, taking into account low-cost electricity options.

By 2030, South Africa will now aim for additional capacity of 14.4 GW wind power, 6 GW solar, 3 GW of gas, 2.5 GW hydro power, 2.088 GW storage, and finally 1.5 GW of coal (see graph).

At the end of 2018, the country’s installed solar PV capacity was 1,474 MW. Out of its already contracted capacity, it expects another 114 MW to come online in 2020, followed by 300 MW in 2021, and 400 MW in 2022, when an additional 1 GW will be added as well. Leaving out 2024, 2026 and 2027 when no PV capacity is scheduled to be added as per the IRP 2019, every other remaining year till 2030 will add 1 GW each, taking the cumulative till 2030 to 8,288 MW, which would account for 10.52% of total energy mix.

The Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwende Mantashe explained that while renewable energy with storage is an opportunity to explore distributed power capacity closer to the demand region along with off-grid power, coal will remain the dominant energy supply, contributing 59% of the energy volume to meet demand. However, coal’s installed capacity by 2030 will be lower than the installed base of 37.15 GW at the end of 2018 as a lot of it will be gradually decommissioned.

By 2030, nuclear power is planned to remain alive in the country in the form of the Koeburg Power Station whose operational permit has been extended till 2024.

Welcoming the IRP 2030, the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) said the allocation of 6 GW of new large scale solar PV generation capacity and around 6 GW of small scale or embedded generation through to 2030 bodes well for the industry. It provides a ‘moderate level of certainty that opportunities in the sector will materialize in the near to medium term’.

However, SAPVIA said it will continue to engage the minister to find mechanisms to ‘smooth out gaps’ presented in 2024, 2026 and 2027 when no PV has been scheduled to be connected to the grid.  ‘Continuity is required for investment in industrialization,’ SPVIA argues.

In the previous draft version of the IRP 2018 released in August 2018, PV was planned to reach 7,958 MW of installed capacity by 2030 (see South Africa Looking For 5.67 GW More Solar By 2030).

Under the four rounds of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producers Programme (REIPPP), the country contracted 6,422 MW of renewable energy out of which 3,876 MW has come online. SAPVIA has urged the government to implement round 5 of the program to help South Africa expedite the installation of new power generating capacity which it said is needed in the face of the national utility Eskom’s frequent load shedding. Previous Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe had said last year that round 5 will offer 1.8 GW of renewable energy capacity (see South Africa To Launch New RE Bid Round).