DA welcomes long overdue release of the Integrated Resource Plan

The Democratic Alliance (DA) welcomes the eventual and long overdue approval of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) by Cabinet. We do, however, call for the immediate review thereof because it is already outdated as it is based on dated assumptions and data. Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe is mandated to promulgate a new IRP every two years. The last one was in 2010, and the newly approved version has been in draft since 2016.

We will write to Minister Mantashe in this regard, and will also request that the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy provide a time frame for the ongoing and regular review of the IRP.

The IRP is South Africa’s blueprint for how electricity will be generated and sourced. It is meant to provide a framework for a just energy transition, including the use of renewable sources of supply, and the management of the national grid.

Cabinet’s approval of the IRP follows Eskom’s implementation of stage 2 rolling blackouts on Tuesday which plunged the country into darkness – impacting economic activity and matric exams.

It is clearer than ever that Eskom’s monopolistic hold on South Africa’s electricity sector is hampering the country’s progress due to its inefficiencies. Energy security in South Africa requires a diverse mix of supply and the bringing on board of Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

We need to reduce our reliance on coal as our primary source of power and improve our carbon emissions control. It is for this reason that we need to urgently open a new bid window for IPPs (and more specifically renewable IPP’s) in order to ensure a more diverse, clean, competitive and efficient energy sector. We also need to address demand management through smart grid technologies and the roll-out of the national solar water heater programme, which has ground to an ignoble halt and is far behind its targeted schedule.

South Africa must pursue a “least cost” option for electricity supply if there is to be any hope of placing our economy on a stable footing.

Renewable energy is the future and SA cannot be left behind.

The country needs a diverse energy mix. This is the only way our economy stands any chance of recovery.

DA welcomes gazetting of Integrated Resource Plan

The DA welcomes the gazetting of the latest Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) by Energy Minister Jeff Radebe after a number of false starts over the last few years.

In particular, we welcome the policy shift away from building new nuclear power plants. This IRP confirms that former President Jacob Zuma’s corrupt nuclear deal has been shut down in favour of cheaper, cleaner sources of energy.

Minister Radebe and President Ramaphosa deserve credit for taking on the Zuma faction and winning. It is now presumably up to Deputy President David Mabuza – as the President’s special envoy to Russia – to explain to President Vladimir Putin that the nuclear deal is off. We wish him the best of luck on his mission.

The fact of the matter is that we never needed new nuclear plants, and we didn’t have the money to build them. On this score, the new draft IRP is a substantial improvement on the old one.

The plan includes the following new additional capacity by 2030:

  • 1000 MW of generation from coal (previously 16386 MW)
  • 2500 MW from hydro (previously 3399 MW)
  • 5670 MW from solar PV (previously 0 MW)
  • 8100 MW from wind (previously 11800 MW)
  • 8100 MW from gas (previously 8666 MW).
  • 0 MW from nuclear (previously 9600 MW)

We will study the IRP further during the 60-day public consultation period, and will begin engaging with various experts. We will also table the draft IRP for discussion with the Minister and Department of Energy officials in the parliamentary Portfolio Committee.

It appears that a difficult chapter in the energy sector is coming to a close. We are moving towards cleaner, renewable energy and away from the corrupt nuclear deal. This is something to be welcomed.

Ramaphosa must explain appointment of Mabuza as envoy to Russia

The DA notes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s appointment of Deputy President, David Mabuza, as his special envoy to Russia.

With this appointment, it appears Ramaphosa is following former President Jacob Zuma’s lead after he appointed former Energy and Intelligence Minister David Mahlobo as his liaison to Russia.

That culminated in the revamping of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) to try and “force in nuclear”. The ANC government has irrationally pursued nuclear for a long period of time, beginning with the signing of the controversial intergovernmental agreements linked to the R1.2 trillion nuclear deal.

Parliament was told in March that Ramaphosa’s new Cabinet was reconsidering the IRP. Ramaphosa himself even stated that we have no money to go for a nuclear plant build programme at the World Economic Forum in January this year.

This appeared to signal a rejection of any Nuclear Deal which Zuma has been pushing for, but the President’s latest move suggests otherwise.

It is important that Ramaphosa sheds light on his appointment of Mabuza to this new role and the brief that he has been given as this could likely determine whether South Africa adopts an expensive nuclear energy build as part of the IRP.

The country cannot afford nuclear energy and the DA supports cleaner and cheaper alternatives as part of the country’s energy mix.

Nuclear: Deal or No Deal?

The Deputy Minister of Energy, Thembisile Majola, told Parliament today that the new Cabinet is reconsidering the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) that the old Cabinet approved in December last year.
This is the clearest indication yet that President Cyril Ramaphosa may reject former President Jacob Zuma’s planned nuclear build programme.
Ms. Majola told the Portfolio Committee on Energy that Minister Jeff Radebe had requested the IRP to be “re-processed” and taken back to Cabinet because “certain things were not done”. It is unfortunate that the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee would not allow the DA to pose questions as to what these “certain things” were.
We are therefore left to speculate as to whether the new Cabinet is rejecting the old Cabinet’s IRP because of the inclusion of new nuclear investment in it. Indeed, last week the Director-General of the Energy Department, Thabane Zulu, himself speculated that new nuclear would remain part of the energy mix going forward.
Given the need for certainty in the energy sector, it is time Minister Radebe made a clear and unambiguous statement on the status of the IRP that was approved by Cabinet in December. In particular, he must tell the public once and for all whether the building of new nuclear power stations features in government’s energy plans.
The fact is that we cannot afford a R1.2 trillion nuclear deal and the sooner the project is squashed, the better. If President Ramaphosa is to deliver on his promise of a “new deal” he has no choice but to reject the nuclear deal.

Nuclear Deal: Is it off or on?

The DA challenges new Energy Minister Jeff Radebe to give the South African public an unequivocal and unambiguous statement on the nuclear deal.
Yesterday, new Finance Minister Nhlanla Nene said that nuclear plans are still on the table, before adding that this would be subject to affordability.
Today, in Parliament’s Energy Portfolio Committee, the Director-General of the Department of Energy, Thabane Zulu, said that the Department of Energy is preparing a road-map to deal with nuclear.
The Director-General added that he wouldn’t be surprised if nuclear is part of the new Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) since nuclear is part of the Department’s energy policy.
We had hoped that President Ramaphosa’s election, and his appointment of Minister Radebe in place of Minister Mahlobo, signalled the death knell of the R1 trillion nuclear deal.
It now seems the door has been left open to go ahead with the nuclear deal. This would be a slap in the face for every South African who believed President Ramaphosa when he promised a ‘new dawn’ for our country.
It also gives credence to allegations in the public domain that it wasn’t just ‘Zupta’ politicians who benefited from illegal kickbacks in return for a nuclear deal.
In the ‘Betrayal of the Promise’ report authored by a number of respected academics, allegations are made that the ANC received R1 billion for its 2016 local election campaign in return for a nuclear deal. As the report says, on page 17:
“There are allegations that one set of transactions involved Russian funding for the local government elections, which may explain where the ANC managed to find R1 billion for this campaign.”
If the ANC as a whole benefited from illegal kickbacks, then it will be much more difficult for President Ramaphosa to renege on whatever promises have been made.
Indeed, the continued prevarication from ANC Ministers and government officials does nothing to quell the rumours that continue to swirl around nuclear procurement.
The new Energy Minister, Jeff Radebe, has been very quiet since assuming office last week. The time has come for him to break his silence by unequivocally and unambiguously rejecting the nuclear deal.
We call on him to do so without any further delay.

Nuclear Deal: Ramaphosa must stop the gazetting of the Integrated Resource Plan

Minister Gigaba’s Budget Speech, which contained no funding for a new nuclear build, should signal the death knell of the nuclear deal.
The time has come for Minister Mahlobo to accept that his attempt to deliver the nuclear deal has failed. With Zuma gone, he has outlasted his usefulness and should be removed from Cabinet without delay.
The Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), that was apparently approved by the Zuma Cabinet in December, left the door open for a new nuclear build. This was despite every credible study rejecting new investment in nuclear as part of the IRP and recommending investment in renewables and gas instead.
We call on President Ramaphosa to put a stop to the gazetting of Mahlobo’s IRP. Instead, Minister Mahlobo should be removed from office and a new Minister appointed to ensure that the new IRP is based on the latest cutting-edge modelling and research.
In an ideal world, the Department of Energy should:

  1. Appoint an independent entity to do the technical modelling work, such as the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR);
  2. Let that entity determine the latest least cost electricity mix up to 2050 and make that the base case;
  3. Let that entity calculate the cost implications of certain policy decisions that might deviate from the base case;
  4. In parallel, have the findings and the model independently reviewed by an additional expert party;
  5. Hold a proper and meaningful public consultation on the basis of the aforementioned costed base case and the costed deviations from the base case;
  6. Centred on that, decide on policy adjustments (if any) and publish the final IRP.

Given that a large amount of work has already been completed by the department, CSIR and Eskom on these points, we would suggest that Eskom and the CSIR provide its technical work and least-cost scenarios to the department that would then compile a condensed version of the IRP. This condensed least-cost IRP would then be provided to the public and energy committee for comment and once that has been completed, a final version can be sent to the Cabinet for approval. We cannot afford to waste time as the energy sector requires clarity and direction on energy policy as soon as humanly possible.
We need an IRP that favours clean, reliable energy at the lowest cost. We don’t need a nuclear deal and, as Minister Gigaba has made clear, we cannot afford it. So let’s shut the door on this corrupt nuclear deal once and for all.

Mahlobo rushes nuclear plan in time for ANC Conference

It is reported that Cabinet approved a new Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) – which will open the door for nuclear procurement – on Wednesday 6 December.
It is bizarre and highly irregular that no official Cabinet announcement was made last week.
This hasty approval of the IRP under the cover of darkness is a full three months before the February 2018 deadline set by former Minister Kubayi, and without the second round of public participation that was promised.
The rush to approve the IRP cements perceptions that new Energy Minister David Mahlobo was appointed to fast track the nuclear deal. And rumours that money has already changed hands with Russian bidders will only intensify.
It is telling that Cabinet has approved the new IRP just before the ANC’s Conference set to take place on 16-20 December.
Zuma, who is believed to be under pressure from the Russians, is clearly worried that a new ANC leadership (and potentially a new Cabinet) may have other ideas when it comes to nuclear. He wants to make it as difficult as possible for any potential successor to put a halt to nuclear procurement.
No rational government would push for the procurement of new nuclear power stations in our current circumstances. Indeed, all reputable studies have shown that we do not need to build new nuclear power stations and that we cannot afford to do so.
The government’s own Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) has concluded that the lowest cost for any new investment in the energy sector is a blend of solar, wind and gas – with no nuclear. Even Eskom’s latest modelling confirms that the unconstrained least-cost scenario does not include any new nuclear power.
The truth is that new nuclear procurement has nothing do with the best interests of South Africa, and everything to do with the greed of those set to benefit from a corrupt trillion rand deal.
The South African people have suffered the effects of state capture for long enough. The DA will do everything in its power to stop corrupt and unaffordable nuclear procurement.
We are therefore in the process of consulting our legal team to assess whether the new IRP has been approved lawfully, and what steps can be taken in this regard.

Mahlobo greases wheels for nuclear deal

Indications by the new Energy Minister, David Mahlobo, that the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) will be moved forward and ready by the end of November are alarming and are yet another instance of government sending mixed signals on nuclear energy.
The IRP is a vital step for the controversial nuclear deal and is the most important piece of the nuclear puzzle. It has to be in place as the precursor for a “legal” nuclear process to start and once it has been completed, the deal will be fast-tracked.
The DA will interrogate the document to determine whether the document remains a substantive reflection of the original draft approved by Cabinet and reflective of public comment.
Should there be any suspicions of dodgy dealings, the DA will interdict any IRP that fails this test.
The previous Minister committed to deliver the IRP in February 2018 before the Budget Speech, yet there has been no progress made on it. It is therefore quite suspicious that such a large document will now be ready in one month.
Mahlobo is seemingly perfectly placed to secure the nuclear deal for his friends, the Russians, and this is but the first clear indication of this relationship.
The DA will not allow future generations of South Africans to be unnecessarily tied to a nuclear deal that we cannot afford and do not need.

Energy Department delays and renegotiates IPP agreements in bid to secure nuclear

The DA is deeply disturbed by the long delays in signing the Independent Power Producers (IPPs) contracts.
Especially concerning is the announcement today by the Minister of Energy, Mmamoloko Kubayi, that the DOE will be renegotiating the tariffs for these renewable contracts.
This delay and renegotiation is most likely a smokescreen initiated by the Department of Energy and Minister Kubayi in a bid to buy time to ensure the implementation of nuclear energy. This is made abundantly clear by the freeze of all new renewable projects from October, until such time as they have thoroughly scrutinised and aligned it to the IRP and IEP.
The DA will encourage the affected stakeholders to go to court if necessary to ensure that their IPP contracts and prices are upheld. The IPP renewable energy programme is an established and internationally recognized economic model which should be defended.
The delays are costing people their jobs and could result in further closures of renewable energy companies. On top of this, the renegotiation process also sends the wrong signals to the energy industry and appears to be an attempt to stifle growth in the renewable energy sector in favour of nuclear power.
We will ensure the government pursues the most viable approach to maintain the supply of power to the country. Given our renewable resources, and job creation opportunities, South Africa should be prioritising renewable energy and not costly nuclear power.