Power sector in 2030
South Africa’s power sector is dominated by coal (~90% in 2017). 1.5°C compatible pathways show the need to drastically reduce coal reliance by around 2030 to 10 -14%. Similarly, carbon intensity would need to drop in the current decade from 900 gCO₂/kwh to 80-150 gCO₂/kWh by 2030.
South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP2019) aims to procure a total of 14,400 MW of Wind and 6000 MW of PV between 2022 and 2030, which would bring the annual energy generation of PV, Wind and concentrated solar power to approximately 24.7% of the power mix by 2030 – well short of the 78% and 90% required for a 1.5°C compatible pathway.
While the IRP2019 outlines the decommissioning of several older coal plants, the commissioning of another 1500 MW of coal and 3000 MW of gas and diesel by 2030 is incompatible with bringing the carbon intensity of power production to zero.
Towards a fully decarbonised power sector
The carbon intensity of power production needs to reduce from 900 gCO₂/kwh in 2017 to zero in 2035, and then contribute to negative emissions thereafter. Achieving this requires a far more ambitious decarbonisation plan than outlined in the IRP2019. This level of reduction requires coal to be phased out not later than 2033, and a share of renewable energy in power generation close to 100% by 2040.
Between 2011 and 2015 South Africa’s Renewable Energy Independent Power Procurement Programme (REIPPPP) added renewable energy to the power mix and drove down the cost of supply of electricity.