Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) not crystal ball gazing, says DOE

Department reports to Parliament on energy plan.

It must be understood that the integrated energy plan (IEP) for South Africa  was going to be a “simplistic representation of a number of possible future outcomes encapsulating the state of energy demand and supply that could materialize in light of current policies and macroeconomic trends.  The IEP will not be a representation of a most likely energy future.”

So said Ms Tshidmidzi Ramendozi, chief director, energy planning, department of energy (DOE) when addressing parliamentarians of the portfolio energy committee on the state of the IEP, where the DOE had arrived at in terms of producing such a plan and when it was likely to come about.

Under questioning Ramendozi estimated a final draft in the hands of the cabinet by  the middle of 2013.

The development of an IEP was envisaged in a White Paper on Energy in 1998 and the minister in terms of the National Energy Act of 2008 was then mandated to develop and publish such an IEP on an annual basis. The purpose of the IEP was described in the Act “to provide a road map of energy policy and technology development future energy landscape in South Africa to guide future energy infrastructure investments.”

Seven test cases would be studied in the current exercise, Ramendozi said, which would indicate what could happen if particular actions were taken. She was at pains to point out that such test cases were not really scenario planning exercises, which would have allowed for outside forces or factors over which DOE or those associated with energy generation had no control.

Major factors within the ambit of the planning exercise, she said, for projections in the IEP, were the original energy White Paper; the 2010 integrated resources plan; the national development plan; the new growth plan; the national climate change response paper; the national transport master plan; South Africa’s beneficiation strategy and the proposed carbon tax policy.

Parameters governing the base assumptions were, Ramendozi said, renewable energy targets; the fuel reserve margin; the limits governing annual carbon emissions and the penalties involved.   Naturally macroeconomic factors such as banking rates, economic growth and global oil prices were involved in the assessments.

From this base, for which DOE had to make certain assumptions on GDP factors forecast in the 2012 budget, was to take a middle, moderate growth scenario out of low to high growth patterns, and assume a certain amount of skills restraints into the future.    It also had to assume global oil price projections from the Energy Information Administration and, also to be accounted for, were international projections from the annual energy outlook documents of 2012 in order to establish some sort of formula to go forward.

Assumptions for various test cases could then be undertaken, Ramendozi said, with or without the new nuclear build programme; in one case with existing nuclear structures and one without and mothballing existing structures.  Such would form the basis in test cases one and two.

Then came test cases three and four, at which point Ramendozi referred to the national development plan which had presented a number of factors which had to be borne in mind although these directly affected the integrated resources plan (IRP) and were incidental to the IEP under consideration as far as test cases were concerned.

These factors were that as a net importer of crude oil, South Africa was very much a taker in the oil market and susceptible to fluctuating prices. Also to be considered were the new fuel specifications being considered and the fact that refineries were to be re-equipped to capacitate such and that South Africa would no doubts continue on its path of intensive use of fuel-powered vehicles but improving its national transport system generally.

She noted the options in the national energy development plan, as far as liquid fuels were concerned, and these were as DOE saw it – to build a new oil-to-liquid refinery; build a new coal-to-liquid refinery; upgrade existing refineries; import more refined product or build or buy a shareholding in a new refinery in Angola or Nigeria.  All this had to be considered at this point of the running of test models.

Turning to test case three in the process, Ramendozi said this included expanding existing refineries with greenfields operations. Test case four included upgrading or expanding refineries and possibly, in addition, increasing importation of refined product, allowing for consequent upgrades of port infrastructure and associated costs such as transportation.

Test cases five and six, DOE noted, included the issue of carbon emissions, which was based around South Africa’s international commitment to reduce emissions by 34% by 20120 and 42% by 2025. Factors to be considered were the findings of the long term mitigation exercise involved at the time which had established that South Africa’s energy use emissions constituted 80% of all emissions, 40% of which, a majority on a comparative generating basis, arose from the generation of electricity.

Test case five, Ramendozi said, therefore involved the issues of refurbishing the existing “fleet” of generating plants to meet targets set by the department of environmental affairs (DEA).  This would produce a result for this test case.

However, there was little doubt that such a “retrofit plan would still leave demand outstripping the supply of electricity” so that, as per test case six, the plan to be modelled would involve  “South Africa mothballing its (coal) power plants and investing solely in new technologies as a substitute.”

Ramendozi concluded that the issue of carbon tax finally arose in test case seven. Here, the impact of carbon tax on the choice of energy technologies throughout the entire value chain had to be considered, bearing in mind the DOE was aware of a current proposal to tax emissions of CO2 @ R75 per ton of with an increase of around R200 a ton.

For this modelling exercise and still to be completed, she said, was quality checking of the data collected; the actual configuring of the base for the test cases; subsequent analysis and evaluation and then the final report writing.

Stakeholders would be consulted before a draft report was issued, the draft report being considered first by cabinet before the draft became public.

MPs commented that quite obviously things were still therefore at a very early stage and were surprised that the DOE paper at this stage gave no evaluations of each energy source and no comments on job creation or job losses or skills so far reached.   Ramendozi replied to this, and a number of other similar questions on energy resources, that parliamentarians were confusing the IRP, which dealt with resources and the effects and consequences of their use, with the purpose of the IEP.

It was not the job of the IEP to evaluate and decide upon the quality of resources and their use or not.

The IRP was very much on the subject of electricity energy, she said, to repeated and similar parliamentary questions on coal issues and the future of coal as a primary industry.  Questions on gas reticulation and exploration off the Mozambique coast and what PetroSA were planning, for example, and similar issues in the hydrocarbons area, she noted, similarly involved specific resource evaluations and this was not what the IEP was about. She said the job in hand which looked at the whole sector in a broader sense.

“For example”, Ramendozi said, “when looking at the transport master plan it becomes quite evident that whilst improving rail transport systems, a knock-on result in a broader sense would be a swing perhaps from road to rail, meaning a different call upon the rail electricity need. This would be an IRP issue, however.”

This should answer many parliamentarian’s questions, she said, why there was so little to be said in the IEP on the specific issues surrounding liquid fuels in the planning process.

The IEP was to be a road map and the process leading to building such a plan would yet have to “unpack” many of the issues surrounding energy and the economy from a macro-economic viewpoint.  Such macro-economic issues as job losses and the use or over-use of water, for example, would indeed be in the considerations for individual test case models.

“This is going to be a particularly difficult aspect of preparing the IEP”, Ramendozi said, “because it involves cross-debate with many government departments, including treasury, environmental affairs, labour, health and transport, for example, and the final document needed to be both visionary and re-active to findings and take into account policy matters that had been adopted as courses of action”.

“What the IEP will not be”, she said, “is another IRP which evaluates resources but rather a document which will consider test case models, with or without certain weightings, based on inclusivity or excluding issues, and also to incorporate known supply options with given macro-economic factors.”

She commented, in reply to questions on the effect of carbon tax, that this would indeed be a “challenge” to assess, since whilst MPs saw this as an effect on the purse of the individual, DOE’s thinking on this at this very early stage might be to take the treasury viewpoint that the effect carbon tax could be countered by incentives in the system in the form of allowances, before costs reached the individual.

On augmenting the IEP with the liquid fuels strategy, Ramendozi said, that here again DOE was more concerned with producing transportation and demand factors at this stage. She said, in a similar vein, when asked about the Mathombo project, that her department could not even talk the need for a new refinery, “until we start running the various test case models”.

On questions regarding fracking and gas exploration activities in the Karoo, Ramendozi responded, “With all the geological and logistics issues facing fracking, we are hardly even considering this contribution in terms of the time frame of the IEP. We do not see Shellgas playing an effective role in the energy picture in the immediate future as far as short term test cases are concerned”.

She told parliamentarians that one of the test cases included natural gas related to electricity needs, compared with to gas to liquid technologies. However, she said the whole exercise was not to consider one resource against another but how to complement resources into a common system.

The IEP, she said, “must take on board government policy towards the environment, attitudes toward climate change and therefore such issues and water and water resources used in coal fired plants will have to be considered.   However, social issue answers are not something that will come out of the IEP”, she told parliamentarians.

In many cases we see the final IEP highlighting many issues but not addressing their manner of implementation”, she concluded.

Ramendozi said that in terms of producing the IEP, DOE would consider a reserve fuels margin of 19% and when asked as a final question by an MP what DOE were “going to do about the elephant in the room – the growth rate”, she responded that DOE had to follow exactly what treasury were stating for growth “otherwise all other related data would not make sense”.

Chair, Sisa Njikelana, concluded by saying the IEP presentation was the final document in an “important parliamentary year on energy matters,” stating that DOE had to get the concept behind the IEP right in their minds “before it moved into the nuts and bolts of the various test case issues”.

He said that the energy committee was to put on whole host of questions in writing to DOE based on a forthcoming parliamentary summation of the situation so far on the IEP, and this would be an exercise undertaken once parliament re-assembled in the New Year.

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