Integrated energy plan (IEP) around the corner

IEP a few months off

Benedict MartinsAn integrated energy plan (IEP) for South Africa covering the full energy spectrum will definitely be published before the year end, according to the director general, department of energy (DOE), a fact also confirmed by minister Ben Martins when addressing an energy conference in Johannesburg recently.

Ms Nellie Magubane, when addressing the relevant portfolio committee under chair, Sisi Njikelana who had called for an update on the energy plan, was accompanied by minister Ben Martins at the time and present for his first meeting in Parliament. The minister acknowledged and highlighted the importance of unfolding the plan as part of the country’s investment credentials as soon as possible.

Continuing energy story

Whilst re-confirming that the strategy was still at public participation stage, DG Magubane said there was “no end-state tomorrow” with the plan but rather a reflection of a “phased approach as the country’s appetite for energy as it  develops”.

The process began, she said, with the 1998 White Paper, the development of independent powers system operators (ISMO) and the accompanying ISMO Bill also awaiting the production of the IEP, the National Energy Act in 2008 and regulations on resources that have followed. The IEP this year would start the energy initiative rolling to be followed by gas development plans.

Not just supply factors

In the years since apartheid, said Magubane, when energy had different directives which were focused primarily on just maintaining supply, what had changed significantly were economic, environmental and social imperatives which now were being drawn in and superimposed. “The fixation with supply capacity is not now the only criteria to be considered in the energy paradigm”, she said.

The liquid fuels shortages of 2005 and subsequent electricity disruptions in the years up to 2008, Magubane said, had shown the need for coordinated planning to avoid disparate plans and contradictory initiatives in the sectors of electricity, liquid fuels and gas.

A twenty-year road map for the liquid fuels industry was in progress by the department, she said, and a gas planning infrastructure plan was to be developed once the extent of resources were better understood.

International view

Through time, and above all because of energy security, Magubane said, scenario planning has changed in South Africa to take in security, environmental and climate response factors. In conjunction to long-term climate change policy and agreements, lessons had been learnt from the IEA, Austria, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway and Spain, she said.

When asked what had been learnt from a study tour of the USA, DG Magubane said that the primary aspect learnt there was the success of establishing localised energy resources, focusing on what mattered most to the USA and reducing dependence on imports. We learnt, for example, that we must not try a change the impossible or employ unrealistic factors but move according to what was a fact locally. “For example, South Africa has a lot of coal but little water and these factors have to be built in, not ignored.”

She said that the overseas studies where different economies and different state policies were involved, due note that the position had changed radically in South Africa had to be acknowledged, as had been the case in many of those countries.

Control of resources

“For example, government has come from a position where in SA we were determining the appropriate level of involvement with the liquid fuel levels industry during transition to a rapidly globalising picture, to now having to maintain a strategic role in shaping all key sectors of the economy.”

In response to queries from parliamentarians, she acknowledged that the IEP to be produced would not incorporate any powers to the minister, who “would rather be able to exercise any powers affecting energy matters through normal regulatory enforcement contained in the many pieces of legislation that applied to the energy sector, such as the Energy and Gas Acts.”

Pricing restructuring

On pricing issues as far as the IEP was concerned, Ms. Magubane responded to questions that national treasury figures had so far been the base of determinations but in the light that submissions and input from stakeholders which were to emerge from the process now in progress, the issue of price factors could in all probability be reshaped.

In answer to complaints that that there was still no indication from her, or DOE, where the country was going in hydrocarbons, electricity or renewables and what pricing factors were involved for urgent investment needs, the chair asked that DOE be given time to develop the final report or “everything would go in different directions”.

DG Magubane assured parliamentarians that the final plan would enable everybody to weigh up infrastructure plans with government policy, even bearing in mind that the position is constantly changing given such issues as hydro input from neighbours, gas exploration in various forms and global tensions.

previous articles on this subject
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/mineral-and-petroleum-development-bill-grabs-resources/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/president-obama-and-power-africa/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//cabinetpresidential/nuclear-goes-ahead-maybe-strategic-partner/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/petrosa-has-high-hopes-with-the-chinese/

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