The South African Photovoltaic Industry Association (SAPVIA) welcomes the release of the 2016 update of the long-awaited Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). The updated IRP will give all South Africans the opportunity to interrogate the choices and cost assumptions used by the IRP planners to reach their conclusions regarding technology choices.
The allocation of 17 600 MW for Solar PV in the 2016 IRP update is a step in the right direction, but falls short of the immense potential South Africa has to offer in this sector. Independent modelling, based on up-to-date figures from South Africa’s REIPPPP bidding rounds confirm that renewables are the best policy choice in order to meet South Africa’s energy needs at the least cost, while still maintaining our carbon obligations.
Evidence shows that the least cost path for South Africa to achieve a sustainable, low carbon, high job creating energy mix is one that contains a large renewable energy component, supplemented with gas fire power. This renewables and gas scenario has been repeatedly seen in our BRICS partners and elsewhere globally.
In the current fiscally constrained environment, SAPVIA believes that the additional cost of deviation from this ‘least cost scenario’ should be made public to allow policy makers to make informed value-for-money decisions. Any additional cost to the South African fiscus that will impact on critical social spending programmes should be debated.
SAPVIA believes that the ‘build constraint’ placed on renewables should be removed in the IRP models and scenarios in order to reflect the real potential that solar technology can play, and will examine the rationale for the current artificial cost-ineffective constraints being placed in the IRP models as it prepares its submission for the consultative process.
It is important that the energy debate is one based on facts rather than assumptions and SAPVIA intends to robustly participate in the public participation process.