Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe says South Africa will continue to pursue an energy mix while balancing the country’s low carbon emissions commitments.
He was addressing a gathering of the South African Youth Economic Council held in Johannesburg on Thursday evening.
The Minister explained that the choice for an energy mix is derived from a need to secure energy supply for the country and to grow the economy.
“We will continue to pursue an energy mix to ensure security of energy and supply, cognisant of our international commitments to respond to climate change. We will continue to invest in clean energy technologies toward net zero emissions. We will do this through our ambitious energy procurement programmes facilitated by the Independent Power Producer Office (IPPO), which recognised globally for its pioneering excellence.
“Our country relies on about 75 percent of coal for electricity generation…we cannot, overnight, shut down coal generation,” he said.
The Minister highlighted that despite the country’s reliance on coal, much work is being done to procure energy from renewable sources and connect those to the grid.
“To date, the Department has completed procurement of 6422MW of renewable energy through 4 Bid Windows. By the end of June 2021, at least 5422MW from these Bid Windows were already connected to the grid to supply energy to the nation,” Mantashe said.
He added that the department is also in the process of procuring at least 6800MW of power from independent power producers with a further 2000MW expected to be procured from the Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.
“[In addition] plans are underway to extend the lifespan of Koeberg [Nuclear Power Station] by 20 years. Nuclear is critical to net zero carbon emissions as the international energy associations attest. In this regard, as approved by our Cabinet too, we will proceed to implement the 2500MW of nuclear, at a scale and pace affordable to South Africa,” Mantashe said.
The Minister warned that poorer countries will not be able to meet their carbon emissions targets if richer countries do not follow through on their commitments to assist developing countries in their just energy transitions.
“We must insist that industrialized countries, as big polluters, must take greater responsibility. This includes meeting the commitments they repeatedly make to the poor who bear the brunt of their, often irresponsible, actions. Technology transfer and genuine finance cannot be postponed further if we are to meet the net zero targets.”