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IRP update approved by Cabinet includes new coal decommissioning schedule

Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has confirmed that the IRP update contains a revised decommissioning schedule for Eskom’s aged coal power stations.

Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa has confirmed that the IRP update contains a revised decommissioning schedule for Eskom’s aged coal power stations.

10th December 2023

By: Terence Creamer

Creamer Media Editor

     

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Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa reports that Cabinet has approved the release of an updated Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for public comment and also confirms that the document contains a revised decommissioning schedule for Eskom’s aged coal power stations when compared with the prevailing IRP2019 edition.

The IRP update was approved during a special Cabinet meeting last week, held after the executive was unable to finalise several matters on November 29, the date that was meant to serve as its final meeting of 2023.

The special meeting also approved the appointment of Dan Marokane as Eskom’s new CEO, following what has been a protracted and fraught process initiated almost a year ago after André de Ruyter resigned on December 14, 2022.

Ramokgopa said the draft IRP update, which was yet to be formally published by Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe, included two time horizons; an immediate horizon to 2030 and a longer-term horizon.

He said the document included an explanation of the decision to extend the life of certain coal stations, which was itself based on modelling conducted using the Plexos energy modelling tool.

No specifics were provided regarding the new demand and technology cost assumptions used in the updated document, or the nature of the proposed mix of new generation sources outlined for introduction over the two horizons.

Ramokgopa said the details would be provided once the document was officially released for public comment by Mantashe, who is a strong advocate of the continued use of coal and the introduction of gas to power.

No timeframe for the release was provided and no indication was given as to the nature of the public participation process and whether it would include public hearings.

Ramokgopa, however, urged stakeholders to study the document when it was formally released and to provide comment.

He also welcomed the appointment of Marokane and said that his previous experience at Eskom meant he would be able to “hit the ground running” once he finally took up the post.

No firm date has been set, with Eskom having indicated that Marokane will join no later than March 31, 2024.

The Minister said having a permanent CEO would bring much-needed certainty.

HARD-STOP UNCERTAINTY
However, Ramokgopa raised fresh uncertainty over whether the hard-stop date of December 31 would be enforced on those projects – procured under the much-delayed risk mitigation round and the fifth renewables bid window – that had, to date, failed to reach commercial close.

Both Mantashe and the Independent Power Producer Office insisted earlier in the month that the date would not be shifted, with the outstanding projects, including three powerships, continuing to absorb scarce grid connection capacity.

Nevertheless, Ramokgopa confirmed that there had been representations from certain bidders asking for an extension and that "in-house discussions" were under way on the matter.

"As I stand here, I cannot say with any degree of certainty that we will still stick to that date."

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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