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Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Energy has finalised its recommendations on the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), resolving that government should make it clear that both coal and nuclear energy will remain part of SA’s future energy mix. The draft IRP, however, contains no provision for nuclear power because of its high cost.

“There is no persuasive argument to counter the proposition that nuclear technology remains the cleanest, safest and, in the long term, the cheapest technology.” The Committee said in its report. It also made a number of recommendations, following public hearings which were conducted earlier this year.

Energy Committee finalises IRP recommendationsAmong these it’s the expedited finalisation of the IRP within the current financial year “to restore public confidence and promote policy certainty in the energy sector”. The IRP models the expected demand for energy and best-cost scenario on how to supply that energy, but the latest IRP models supply and demand only up to 2030.

The Portfolio Committee on Energy therefore recommends that an immediate study should be conducted to better inform the review of the IRP, and this should seriously consider the concerns raised on demand forecasts, assumptions used, and the robustness of the modelling. “Given the uncertainty in future demand, technologies and innovation, the committee recommends that any IRP should be flexible enough to respond to these uncertainties, including exploring the feasibility of new and agile approaches to energy provision in this rapidly changing energy environment,” the body said in a statement.

It also directed the Department of Energy to conduct a thorough socio-economic impact assessment of various energy mix scenarios in preparation for the review of the IRP by 2020, and called for the expedited finalisation of the Integrated Energy Plan (IEP) and the Gas Utilisation Master Plan (GUMP).

Among the Committee’s other recommendations are that the department of energy should conduct a socioeconomic impact study of the various energy-mix scenarios. The government should also hold a national dialogue on a “Just Energy Transition” before the end of the financial year.

“This should particularly focus on communities that are going to be affected by the transition from the use of fossil fuels,” it says. The committee also recommends that the minister of energy convene an energy summit to map out the energy future for SA comprehensively.

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