There are currently no plans to discontinue the use of coal as part of the country's energy mix, said Deputy President David Mabuza while responding to questions in the National Assembly on Thursday, 31 March.
He said the country’s energy generation is guided by the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2019 which provides for the use of all energy resources available, including, among others, coal, gas and renewable energy sources.
“Currently, there are no plans for the discontinuation of the use of coal as 99% of South Africa’s electricity supply is derived from coal and 30% of liquid fuels are derived from the same commodity.
“Coal remains one of our largest natural endowments that will continue to form part of our energy mix in terms of the IRP 2019,” he said.
He said, however, that despite this, the country is committed to forging a low-carbon growth path that prioritises environmental sustainability.
Need for new infrastructure, technologies and solutions
“We need to ensure that we deploy new infrastructure, technologies and solutions that enable us to adhere to ambient air quality standards, and protect the lives of communities from negative environmental externalities.
“Going forward, the IRP 2019 proposes the use of high efficiency, low emissions coal technologies. Government is currently working on other measures, such as the Gas Utilisation Master Plan and the Renewable Energy Master Plan.”
Mabuza said government is exploring the development of the Nuclear Procurement Framework as proposed in the IRP 2019. He said these are part of the medium to long-term plans in ensuring security of energy supply.
Planned optimised plant shutdowns
“Having said that, it is important to point out that out of the entire fleet, there are planned optimised plant shutdowns that is aligned with the Integrated Resource Plan to balance capacity, environmental, social and economic considerations.
“This is inevitable because, in the main, these plants are approaching the end of their lifespan, and have become uneconomical, unpredictable and costly to run.
“Nine coal-fired power stations will be shut down by 2035, thereby impacting significantly on the reduction of generation capacity,” he said.