The wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) industry bodies have responded positively to the allocations outlined in the draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) base case, while the concentrated solar power (CSP) body has expressed dismay at the technology’s exclusion.
South African Wind Energy Association (Sawea) CEO Brenda Martin welcomed the IRP update, as well as the accompanying public consultation process, which she said would enable citizens to engage transparently with electricity planners on investment choices.
Likewise, the South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (Sapvia) said the release of the document provided an opportunity to “interrogate the choices and cost assumptions used”.
Wind is a big winner in the updated base case, with a 37 400 MW allocation between 2020 and 2050, while 17 600 MW of solar PV is outlined over the same period. The allocations also appear to be additional to the existing allocation of 13 GW of renewable energy by 2025.
Both allocations are based on the so-called “constrained renewables” assumption included in the IRP 2010, which takes a conservative view on the yearly rate at which renewables should be added. In the update the yearly rate for adding wind is limited to 1 600 MW, while solar PV peaks at 790 MW.
Nevertheless, Martin described the allocation for wind as “generous” and added that it would assist with increasing confidence in the market.
There was nevertheless still market uncertainty in light of the refusal of Eskom to sign power purchase agreements (PPA) for the most recent bid windows of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, which had Sawea weighing its legal options.
However, Eskom head of generation Matshela Koko said in a radio interview that he was willing to sign PPAs for renewables that came in at the 62c/kWh being claimed as the new price for wind and solar for the round four REIPPPP projects. He expressed reluctance, however, at signing contracts for projects with higher tariffs.
Martin welcomed the fact that the draft IRP 2016 took account of more recent cost data, while extending the planning horizon to 2050.
“Between rounds 1 and 4 of the REIPPPP the cost of wind and solar energy has fallen drastically. Both wind and solar are now averaging R0.62/kWh, having fallen from R1.15/kWh and R3.65/kWh respectively in Round 1,” she said, while expressing the hope that the promulgation timeline of March 2017 would be met.
“Independent modelling, based on up-to-date figures from South Africa’s REIPPPP bidding rounds confirm that renewables are the best policy choice in order to meet South Africa’s energy needs at the least cost, while still maintaining our carbon obligations.”
Sapvia added that, in a fiscally constrained environment, any additional cost of deviation from a least-cost scenario should be made public to allow policymakers to make informed value-for-money decisions.
The industry body also questioned the “build constraint” placed on renewables, arguing that it should be removed in the IRP models in order to reflect the “real potential that solar technology can play”.
Sastela chairperson Pancho Ndebele argued that the exclusion of CSP demonstrated a lack of appreciation of the value CSP plays in providing clean and dispatchable baseload, mid-merit and peaking power.
The exclusion of CSP comes amid a dispute between Eskom and the developers of the 100 MW Redstone CSP project in the Northern Cape. The projecthas been adjudicated and approved, but Eskom is refusing to sign off on a PPA, citing affordability concerns.
“The CSP community is reviewing the IRP documents and we will engage policymakers and participate in the forthcoming IRP consultations to demonstrate that the final IRP 2016 does require CSP as part of our country’s future energy mix.”