electricity crisis IRP

Photo: @GwedeMantashe1 / TW

IRP: Here’s how the government plans to solve our electricity crisis

The government says that coal-generated power is here to stay, but other ways to increase electricity supply are being explored.

electricity crisis IRP

Photo: @GwedeMantashe1 / TW

Government has revived the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) as its last-ditch effort to save South Africa from total darkness following Eskom’s inability to keep the power grid stable.

What is the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP)?

First, a bit of clarity. The government has stressed that the IRP is not the Energy Plan. Instead, it is a national electricity plan, a subset of the Integrated Energy Plan.

This is by no means the long-term solution to South Africa’s energy crisis. According to the government, the IRP is merely “a plan that directs the expansion of the electricity supply over the given period.”

Eskom has, for a number of years, been struggling to keep the power grid stable. Rolling blackouts have featured for the most part of this year and the ongoing issues at our power stations are not holding any promise for a future without load shedding.

What makes it worse is that electricity tariffs keep going up and that, in turn, makes it much harder for the power utility to make profit from sales and debt collections.

All of this spells an impending disaster but, according to Mineral Resources and Energy Minister, Gwede Mantashe, the government has a plan.

“Nuclear is the short-term solution” – Gwede Mantashe

Mantashe revealed, during a media briefing, that the time has come for South Africa to begin its integration into nuclear energy. He admitted that the failing coal power stations, like Medupi and Kusile, were going to be around for a very long time.

The intention, he said, was to find ways to ensure that those coal power stations continue to work for us, in collaboration with modular nuclear plants that were going to be developed soon.

“15 power stations in South Africa are coal-generated power stations and they are not going to be decommissioned two, three or five years. They are going to be around for a long time, but there are those that are going to be decommissioned because they have come to the end of their lives,” he revealed.

One such power station, Mantashe revealed, is Koeberg. The latter is due to expire in 2024. However, the minister noted that plans are in place to extend its lifeline by another 20 years.

Mantashe indicated that part of the plan was to contain coal emission levels — with the continued output of coal-generated electricity — while integrating modular nuclear plants that should add 2 500MW to the grid.

This, together with energy sourced from independent power producers, will form as the basis of the IRP, he said.