South Africa skilled unprecedented electricity shortages in 2023 as growing older coal crops turned into more and more susceptible to breakdowns. The rustic urgently must increase new electrical energy era amenities and scale back reliance on coal energy.
Within the first week of 2024, the South African power minister, Gwede Mantashe, launched a proposed roadmap for the way forward for electrical energy in South Africa. Sadly, the draft Integrated Resource Plan is a big unhappiness. Described by way of some analysts as “shoddy”, the plan comprises, amongst many flaws, large mistakes in costing the other long term power eventualities.
At first, the plan’s costing estimates aren’t credible. It does now not even imagine essentially the most reasonably priced mixture of recent, further electrical energy – in large part wind and photovoltaic sun, with some battery garage. As an alternative, the plan claims wrongly that gas-intensive eventualities are less expensive.
Secondly, the plan says the federal government should construct 6,000MW of recent gas-fired energy stations by way of 2030. This concept has been vigorously opposed by way of environmental and different civil society teams at the grounds that greater use of fossil fuels would boost up international warming. Any other downside is that the fuel would should be imported, leaving South Africa on the mercy of world fuel worth fluctuations. The type of funding in fuel this is wanted will require primary new builds, which invariably finally end up with major delays and cost overruns.
The brand new draft plan may dedicate South Africa to unnecessarily pricey answers. This may occasionally injury financial possibilities and pressure power prices to unaffordable ranges.
The plan’s power eventualities
The primary state of affairs is a “Reference Case”, which proposes that every one further electrical energy be generated part by way of fuel and part by way of wind and solar energy. The draft plan wrongly claims that that is essentially the most cost-effective possibility.
The second one is a “Renewable Power” state of affairs, the place no new coal, nuclear and fuel crops are constructed, however the place simplest about one 3rd of the brand new solar energy funding can be within the type of photovoltaic generation. This state of affairs says the majority of recent sun capability can be supplied by way of concentrated solar power, which is never thought to be globally in this day and age as a result of it’s a lot more pricey than photovoltaic generation. Concentrated solar energy prior to now had the benefit of having the ability to retailer warmth for a couple of hours, producing electrical energy after sundown. However this will now be completed with photovoltaic generation and battery garage.
The 3rd state of affairs is “Renewable Plus Nuclear”, the place about 15,000MW of recent nuclear builds would give you the electrical energy attributed to concentrated solar energy underneath the former all-renewable state of affairs.
The fourth is a “Not on time Shutdown” state of affairs. Underneath this plan, the lifetime of the rustic’s coal crops can be prolonged by way of a number of years every, lengthy past the projected closure dates for those crops.
The overall possibility proposed by way of the federal government is a “Renewable Plus Coal” state of affairs, the place new fuel and coal crops would substitute the capability attributed to concentrated solar energy or nuclear within the different eventualities.
Surprisingly, there is not any provision for what’s one of the crucial cost-effective possibility: a renewable power state of affairs the usage of photovoltaic generation and with greater garage.
Unclear how govt calculated the prices of recent power
We have no idea how the federal government costed those eventualities for the reason that draft plan does now not set out the prices according to generation. As an alternative, it claims to have used the April 2023 Lazard Levelized Costs of Energy report to calculate how a lot every new type of power would charge.
However this doesn’t seem to have been the case. Lazard is the arena’s largest independent investment bank. Its experiences are broadly recognised as authoritative. The prices Lazard has calculated for the more than a few applied sciences – renewable, coal, fuel and nuclear energy – are very other to the prices that the federal government should have used within the draft plan.
If the ministry’s planners had used the Lazard power costing, they’d have reached an overly other conclusion. There are 3 imaginable explanations:
that the planners didn’t use the Lazard costing, or they used it incorrectly, or
their charge calculations are improper.
What are the prices of the other power eventualities?
Lazard sets out those prices according to megawatt hour of electrical energy:
software scale sun photovoltaic: US$24-96 according to MWh
software scale sun photovoltaic plus garage: US$46-102 according to MWh
onshore wind: US$24-75 according to MWh
coal: US$68-166 according to MWh for coal from a newly constructed coal plant and US$29-74 according to MWh for coal from an present plant
nuclear: US$141-221 according to MWh for brand spanking new construct; US$29-34 according to MWh for present plant.
Lazard closing produced prices for concentrated solar energy in 2019: US$141 according to MWh, which is precisely the low cost finish of nuclear. Alternatively, concentrated solar energy is now not up to date within the Lazard record as nearly all sun crops evolved in the previous couple of years are photovoltaic. There’s due to this fact no approach that the “Renewable Plus Nuclear” state of affairs can determine less expensive than the only for renewables simplest, as claimed within the draft Built-in Useful resource Plan.
Those prices obviously display that wind and solar energy are the most affordable choices. South Africa has extremely high sunshine levels and excellent winds, which might deliver the prices for sun and wind energy down to close the bottom ranges within the previous quoted levels. It’s due to this fact inexplicable that the ministry’s staff has concluded that the “Renewable Power” state of affairs is by way of a ways the most costly.
A excellent electrical energy plan is essential to making sure a rustic’s power safety. It’s crucial that the precise assumptions made within the modelling should be declared and that govt should make the calculations transparent.