Kgosientsho Ramokgopa. (Photo: Per-Anders Pettersson/Getty Images)
The updated Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) — which will set out the country’s electricity investment strategy up until 2030 — is at “an advanced stage”, according to Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa.
Ramokgopa, who was updating the public on the implementation of the Energy Action Plan on Sunday, indicated that the development of the so-called “IRP 2023” has reached the final stretch.
The minister said he was confident that the IRP would be presented to cabinet before the end of November, conceding that this date will mark a three-month delay.
Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe, who is in charge of developing the IRP, has received criticism for his failure to table an updated plan.
The IRP is an electricity infrastructure plan which shows the country’s long-term electricity demand, how this demand will be supplied — and what it will cost. Without the IRP 2023, South Africa has had to rely on the assumptions contained in the 2019 version of the plan.
“It’s important because it will inform all of our actions going into the future — what will constitute our energy mix. And of course that will determine what kind of investments, the scale of investments, that we will be making in the South African economy to ensure that we are able to meet that need, that we are able to resolve load-shedding and that, in the long term there is energy security,” Ramokgopa said on Sunday.
Two weeks ago, the Democratic Alliance lambasted President Cyril Ramaphosa’s cabinet for allowing Mantashe to drag his feet on the IRP.
“Mantashe has missed several self-imposed deadlines to release an updated IRP, a failure for which he has faced no real consequences,” the opposition party said in a statement.
The DA later added: “It boggles the mind that Ramaphosa has been quick to establish a national crisis committee and energy task teams but has failed to show the same zeal in expediting South Africa’s electricity generation roadmap through the IRP.”
If the governing ANC fails to bring the electricity crisis to heel, ongoing load-shedding could count against the party in the upcoming elections.
Ramokgopa also provided an update on the return of Koeberg unit one, a process which has also been beset by delays. “All the work has been done now on the part of Eskom,” the minister noted, adding that the utility is now awaiting feedback from the regulator.
Koeberg unit one has been offline since December 2022 for maintenance, refuelling and refurbishment. The Koeberg refurbishments are part of Eskom’s efforts to extend the nuclear power station’s operating licence for another 20 years.
Once unit one gets the “thumbs up”, Ramokgopa said, unit two can be taken offline — scheduled to happen on 25 November. The minister noted, however, that there is still a chance the regulator will not approve Koeberg unit one’s return to operation.