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SAWEA: SA needs a more ambitious Integrated Resource Plan

The South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA) acknowledges the publication of the revised Integrated Resource Plan (IRP 2023) for public commentary and urges the energy community to critically analyse the plan to provide constructive inputs that will improve our energy future.

SAWEA appreciates the information sessions hosted by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) to delve deeper into the plan and its underlying assumptions which have provided much-needed context and additional information ensuring a common understanding across various interpretations.

All stakeholders agree that the country’s current energy crisis requires swift action through a clear, comprehensive, and realistic implementation plan. A methodology that focuses on enhancing grid stability while promoting a reliable, tried, and tested diverse energy mix must remain a prevailing priority.

SAWEA seeks a shift in mindset, looking to the DMRE for leadership as the country’s energy plan unfolds. “South Africa needs to adopt a holistic approach to energy planning, integrating multiple technologies that make sense for the country’s energy needs. This requires the system operator to redefine business strategies to ensure an affordable, safe and reliable energy supply, not only for the present but for generations to come,” says Niveshen Govender, CEO of SAWEA.

Commendably, the analysis of the two horizons considers crucial national aspirations, including security of supply, energy affordability and carbon emissions reductions. This presents a strategic opportunity to actively shape the nation’s energy future. “In its present state, Horizon 1 of the IRP 2023 needs the capacity to inspire confidence of a more ambitious, integrated approach. While Horizon 2 pathways better depict the serious ambitions of our energy needs, we encourage scenarios where those ambitions are brought forward to the immediate term under Horizon 1.”

Examining the pathways outlined in Horizon 2, it is evident that wind energy has a leading role to play in the energy mix, owing to its distinctive characteristics and associated benefits for our energy system. This underlines the urgent requirement for an extensive new build programme that will augment generation capacity sooner rather than later. This is further substantiated by literature that points to renewable energy as the least costly technology, bringing the country closer to addressing prevailing energy constraints.

SAWEA encourages the DMRE to clearly articulate a complete list of assumptions with the relevant sources and motivations for adjustments where required as a starting point to further engagement. To

thoroughly evaluate the outputs of the IRP2023, additional analysis to include alternative scenarios and cost implications is critical.

Whilst industry is cognisant of the fact that IRP2019 is yet to be fully implemented, outstanding allocations of IRP2019 added to IRP 2023 emerging plan will make it a more robust plan. By adopting an ambitious IRP2023 that accommodates consistent wind energy technology, we anticipate sporadic industry growth, driven by heightened industrialisation, localisation efforts, and reduced capital costs associated with wind technology.

To achieve this vision, SAWEA advocates for a more ambitious IRP, demonstrating a definitive strategy for industry growth and development.

The IRP2023 requires a lot of intense review, transparency and creative resolve. SAWEA plans to conduct a member engagement session on February 13, 2024, to gather further input for the wind sector’s consolidated feedback to the DMRE.

Undoubtedly, a committed and inspiring integrated resource plan will secure South Africa’s energy future.