South Africa: the government blows on the just energy transition #AfricaClimateCrisis

Cape Town — The government has announced that it has no current plans to discontinue the use of coal in the country’s energy mix. Responding to oral questions in the National Assembly, Vice President David Mabuza said the country’s energy production is guided by the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2019. This means that all sources of fuels – coal , gas and renewables – are all considered equally viable. sources of energy.

“Currently, there are no plans for phasing out the use of coal as 99% of South Africa‘s electricity supply is derived from coal and 30% of liquid fuels are derived from the same product. … Coal remains one of our greatest natural endowments that will continue to be part of our energy mix in terms of IRP 2019,” Mabuza said.

Mabuza also said that nuclear energy would be explored in accordance with the nuclear supply framework, as proposed in the 2019 IRP. coal-fired power plants should be built. shut down by 2035. “This is inevitable because, for the most part, these plants are nearing the end of their lifespan and have become unprofitable, unpredictable and expensive to operate,” Mabuza said.

According to Mabuza, the IRP 2019 Gas Utilization Master Plan and Renewable Energy Master Plan are additional avenues of potential electricity generation that can be explored.

What was said at COP26

Mabuza’s statements come after commitments made by South Africa at the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Glasgow, where a major $8.2 billion deal with the UK, the United States, Germany, France and the European Union has been signed. The climate finance deal aims to invest in a just transition to renewable energy and a coal phase-out for South Africa. A just transition is defined by a nation’s adoption of a low-carbon economy. It is based on social dialogue between workers and their unions, employers, government and communities, according to the Life After Coal campaign. It was said at the time that none of the funds would be used to cover the debt of the struggling national electricity company Eskom.

“This funding is not for Eskom’s debt. This funding is for the transition project itself which was announced between several developed countries and our President Cyril Ramaphosa at the start of COP26. But let me clarify, it’s an offer from developed countries, it’s not an agreement,” said Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin.

Despite the commitment to a just transition at COP26, Mabuza’s statements echo South Africa’s refusal to sign the COP26 Coal Pledge. “South Africa has not signed off on the abandonment of the coal commitment. Our position in the negotiations is that any decision should be made through the process of formal negotiations through the convention. And I think we would be concerned about situations where there is an increased tendency to put in place platforms and commitments that are outside of the negotiation process. We think that puts developing countries at a disadvantage,” he told the then Minister of Forests, Fisheries and the Environment, Barbara Creecy.

Is the AfDB financing a step in the right direction?

A recent bilateral meeting between Akinwumi A. Adesina, President of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and Gwede Mantashe, South African Minister of Minerals and Energy, was held with the aim of securing funding to reduce the country’s dependence on coal.

Mantashe said the government is committed to reducing coal-fired power generation by 15% and increasing renewables by 18% by 2030. In addition, the AfDB estimates that South Africa would need more than $30 billion to switch to renewable energy. “South Africa cannot and should not embark on the path of energy transition without the necessary financial support,” Adesina said.

The AfDB is financing several renewable energy projects in South Africa. According to Adesina, solar power should be a key part of South Africa’s energy mix. “Be bold about solar power,” he said. “Africa today has no choice but to get out of coal. But God is good to us. We have 11 terawatts of solar energy. This is the future of Africa. South Africa can help make that future a reality. South Africa can and should position itself to be the leading manufacturer of polysilicon.”

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