IRP 2019: Energy efficiency focus lacking says SANEDI

The Integrated Resource Plan 2019 – 2030 (IRP 2019 – 2030) introduced in October 2019 sets out nine policy interventions to fortify the country’s energy supply with a prominent focus on renewable energy. The South African National Energy Development Institute (SANEDI) has welcomed the strong emphasis on renewable energy and believes the IRP 2019 has set realistic and achievable targets within its allocated timeframes.

However, whilst the IRP 2019 offers a comprehensive framework for renewable energy technologies, SANEDI comments that the plan underestimates the importance of energy efficiency.

“You should first look at what you can save and then what you have to generate. Due to the rising costs of electricity and various other incentives, organisations and individuals have become more energy-efficient and unfortunately, the new IRP has not considered this,” says Barry Bredenkamp, General Manager: Energy Efficiency & Corporate Communications at SANEDI.

“The IRP 2019 should have included the technologies that allow for energy efficiency.  Plus, the plan has not modelled the effect of energy efficiency on the country’s strides to become less coal dependant which is unfortunate.”

Dr MinneshBipath, acting CIO of SANEDI adds, “As an energy-intensive country, a lot of our industrial production designs were developed inefficiently due to the very low cost of electricity. With the recent sustained tariff increases, the financial viability of these operations has been called into question resulting in some businesses closing.

“If we look at the Eskom annual sales 208 TWh (2019) you will notice a sustained year on year decline. This can be attributed to the increased tariff effects, as well as the impact of the energy efficiency drive.  If energy efficiency is given due attention, it could potentially avoid the need to build additional capacity and this will always be the cheaper option.  Smart technology also comes into play here as it can provide real-time linkage between demand.”

Bipath also believes the country will organically start moving off the grid to overcome current energy provision challenges and already those businesses that can afford to move, have started the transition.

Adds Thembakazi Mali, interim CEO of SANEDI: “It is also these organisations that are some of the most significant users and paying customers of electricity which means we will – in the future – be supplying power to a part of the economy that might not be able to afford it.

“As the landscape changes organically, the government will be forced to follow and will miss an opportunity to put policies, regulations and incentives in place to support and benefit from this change.”