Coal will continue to play a significant role in electricity generation as the country has the resource in abundance, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe said on Friday.
New investments will be directed towards more efficient coal technologies, underground coal gasification and the development of carbon capture and storage to enable the country to continue using coal resources in an environmentally responsible way, Mantashe said as he outlined the long-awaited Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2019.
He was speaking as the power system in the country further deteriorated, leading to continued massive power blackouts across the country.
The IRP, approved by the cabinet on Thursday, is the national electricity infrastructure development plan based on least cost-electricity supply and demand balance, which takes into account security of supply and the environment. It provides a blueprint for the envisaged energy mix for the country over the period to 2030.
South Africa relies heavily on coal for power generation. The IRP is designed to reduce dependence on coal by exploiting other resources of energy such as nuclear, solar, hydro and wind.
But Mantashe indicated that South Africa’s power generation cannot go without coal, at least for the time-being.
“There must be a just transition towards less carbon-emitting technologies. Workers and communities in affected areas must, as far as possible, not be left worse off,” Mantashe said.
It must be noted that while the coal’s installed capacity will be lower than current installed base, it will remain the dominant energy supply contributing 59 percent of the energy volumes required to meet demand, Mantashe said.
Under the IRP 2019, nuclear will contribute five percent; hydro eight percent; photovoltaic six percent; wind 18 percent; gas and storage two percent, said Mantashe. Enditem