- CSIR’s formal input into the Integrated Resource Plan public consultation process (9.17 MB)
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR’s) formal input into the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) public consultation process, which ended on March 31, proposes a new-build mix that deviates materially from the IRP Base Case released by the Department of Energy (DoE) in November.
The same modelling framework used by the DoE is employed by the CSIR to develop what it describes as a “least-cost, unconstrained electricity mix by 2050” .
The science council’s techno-economic model, therefore, does not include the limitations imposed in the Base Case on the amount of renewable-energy capacity that can be added in a single year.
The restriction, which has been justified on the basis of it having also been included in assumptions used for the current version of the IRP, has been criticised by several stakeholders, including Energy Intensive Users Group (EIUG), which argues that the Base Case “should always be the least-cost scenario against which all scenarios and sensitivities are tested”.
Most other input assumptions have been retained, including a discount rate of 8.2% and yearly average growth rates of 2.3% and 1.4% as outlined in the ‘High’ and ‘Low’ forecasts contained in the Base Case.
However, the CSIR’s cost assumptions for solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind have been adjusted to reflect the tariffs bid during the most recent bid window of South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.
The outcome is a new-build mix made up predominantly of solar PV and wind, supported by flexible power generators, such as gas, concentrated solar power, hydro and biogas.
The share of renewables in this “cost- optimal” mix is greater than 70% by 2050. The mix also includes no new nuclear capacity, representing a marked deviation from the Base Case, which assumes that nuclear will comprise 28% of the mix, or 20.4 GW, by 2050.
The CSIR claims the least-cost mix would be R70-billion-a-year less expensive than the Base Case by 2050. In addition, it would produce less than half of the carbon emissions and consume far less water, while still meeting the anticipated demand of 522 TWh by 2050.
“South Africa has the unique opportunity to decarbonise its electricity sector without pain,” the CSIR document states, while arguing that ‘clean’ and ‘cheap’ are no longer trade-offs.
The CSIR also quantifies the cost of ensuring system frequency stability in its submission, arguing that, in all scenarios, the worst-case costs are well below 1% of total cost of power generation by 2050.
Transmission network infrastructure has also been costed in the report. “The high-level cost estimates for shallow and deep grid connection costs for all scenarios showed that the least-cost scenario is also R20-billion to R30-billion a year cheaper, compared with the draft IRP 2016 Base Case and Carbon Budget case on transmission network infrastructure requirements.”
The DoE, which accepted comments on the Base Case until the end of March, has indicated that the revised IRP, which would be subject to a policy adjustment, should not be expected until the second half of 2017.
In its submission, the EIUG urged the department to ensure at least 30 days be provided for public comment once the draft policy-adjusted IRP becomes available.