Committee Reports: Draft IRP 2018 hearings; Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material Amendment

Energy

27 November 2018
Chairperson: Mr F Majola (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to consider two important reports - amendments to the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) and the draft IRP 2018.

The Committee approved the amendments to CCPNM as it had received satisfactory responses regarding three concerns in raised in the previous meeting:

  • Whether section 231(2) of the Constitution was the appropriate legislation to guide the Committee.
  • Whether the parliamentary approval of the 2007 CPPNM was done in terms of section 231(2) of the Constitution, and lastly -
  • Receipt of the legal opinions from the State law Advisor and the International Relations Department on the matter.

All the matters had been attended to satisfactorily by the Committee (items 1 and 2 were confirmed as correct) and the Committee was satisfied with the legal opinions received.

The Committee approved the Draft IRP 2018, but was concerned about the possibility of challenges regarding the legality of coal and wanted to meet with the Department to address the issue.  Other important aspects in their report were on the following issues:

The Committee acknowledged and respected the wealth of information shared by all stakeholders. In assessing the draft IRP, the Committee acted in the best interests of the country and its citizens - particularly in respect of the validity of arguments and views raised vs. the number of views raised on matters. The IRP had to be consistent with the NDP (National Development Plan) in terms of the energy mix and localisation strategies that favoured local businesses.

-The Committee acknowledged that South Africa was committed to the Paris Climate Change Agreement towards a low carbon path.

Key matters agreed to in the report were (amongst others): 

  • that DOE had to be more explicit and supportive about the inclusion of coal and nuclear.
  • that DOE had to urgently expedite the IRP within the current financial year to provide certainty to investors
  • the IRP had to be reviewed every two years and be aligned to the changing technology and other input factors like demand
  • the Department had to seriously consider the input received from stakeholders regarding demand forecasts.
  • DOE had to conduct a socio economic study incorporating all the various energy options in the plan.
  • a national dialogue was urgently needed on a Just Energy Transition within the current financial year.
  • renewable energy would play a key role in the future energy mix of the country
  • an Energy Summit had to be convened urgently to map out a clear Energy Plan for the country.

Meeting report

The Committee met to consider two important reports that had to be submitted to the National Assembly - amendments to the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) and the draft IRP 2018.

The Department of Energy (DEO) attended proceedings and was led by its DG, Mr Thabane Zulu. He was supported by Ms Elsie Monale, Chief Director: Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Radiation Security and Mr Abednigo Hlungwayo, Chief Director: Office of the DG. Some members from the media was present as well stakeholders from environmental groups.

CPPNM Amendment

The Chairperson said that the Committee had studied the key aspects related to the CPPNM amendments as presented by DoE in the previous meeting. Prior to adoption of the amendments, the Committee had to consider three important aspects related to the amendments i.e:

  • Whether section 231(2) of the Constitution was the appropriate legislation to guide the Committee
  • Whether the parliamentary approval of the 2007 CPPNM was done in terms of section 231(2) of the Constitution, and
  • Receipt of the legal opinions from the State law Advisor and the International Relations Department on the matter.

All the above matters had been attended to satisfactorily by the Committee (items 1 and 2 were confirmed as correct) and the Committee was satisfied with the legal opinions received.

The Committee adopted the report as presented by DOE and recommended that the National Assembly approve the CPPNM amendments.

Draft IRP 2018

The Chairperson said that the updated Committee report on included the changes and suggestions proposed by members in previous meetings.

The Committee Secretary provided a briefing of the draft Committee Report. It contained, amongst others, two key aspects - Findings and Observations as well as Recommendations.

The Committee Findings and Observations included the following important points: 

  • The Committee acknowledged and respected the wealth of information shared by all stakeholders at the public hearings. In assessing the draft IRP, the Committee acted in the best interests of the country and its citizens - particularly in respect of the validity of arguments and views raised as opposed to the number of views raised on matters. The IRP had to be consistent with the NDP (National Development Plan) in terms of the energy mix and localisation strategies that favoured local industrial and economic development.
  • The Committee acknowledged that South Africa was committed to the global Paris Climate Change Agreement towards a low carbon path.
  • The Grand Inga treaty was ratified in Parliament and South Africa had to continue with the plans to source energy from Inga, despite current challenges regarding the project - however most stakeholders felt that the project was not viable due to uncertainty regarding its future.
  • Calls for the removal of coal from the IRP could not be supported as coal was crucial in providing employment. The Committee was aware that the use of coal would impact negatively on climate change and requested that DOE conduct a full assessment of the environmental challenges that would result from the two new coal fired power stations in the IRP.
  • The IRP could not be rigid in adopting certain technologies and systems only - due to the rapid changes, the IRP had to be flexible and adaptive to new developments as these came to the fore.
  • On nuclear, the Committee noted the submission by the DoE to include it in its long term plans - it was modelled as a fleet, in the form of two units (1500MW per unit) and in a short space of time of up to 2030, nuclear became the most expensive technology. This was a matter of scalability - there was no pre-determined decision to exclude nuclear as such, as there had been no persuasive arguments to counter these proposals. Nuclear technology remained the cleanest, safest and in the long term the cheapest technology.
  • Renewable Energy would play a key role in the future energy mix of the country. Concerns were raised regarding the pace and scale of its introduction and the ability to provide jobs and local content in the manufacturing process. The gap in the procurement of wind energy had to be addressed.
  • The allocation for embedded energy generation was too low and had to be increased.
  • DOE had to conduct a more realistic and appropriate socio economic study on the impact of the IRP on people and the economy - there was not sufficient information on the matter in the current draft
  • The demand projections in the IRP had to be revisited.

The Committee proposed that the National Assembly accept and support the IRP report on condition that the Minister of Energy addresses the concerns below:

  • DoE had to urgently expedite the IRP within the current financial year to provide certainty to investors and  other stakeholders
  • The IRP had to be reviewed every two years
  • The Department had to seriously consider the input received from stakeholders regarding demand forecasts.
  • The IRP had to flexible and adaptive to incorporate new technologies and other changes (e.g. demand changes). The IRP had be agile regarding the provision of energy.
  • DoE had to conduct a socio economic study incorporating all the various energy options in the plan.
  • A national dialogue was urgently needed on a Just Energy Transition within the current financial year.
  • All externalities had to be considered in arriving at a finalised IRP.
  • DoE had to expedite and finalise the Gas Utilisation Master Plan (GUMP) and the Integrated Energy Plan (IEP).
  • The IRP had to favour the development of local industries
  • The IRP had to include local government in its plans.
  • DoE had to provide plans for an additional 2500MW in case it had to replace the 2500MW earmarked to come from the Grand Inga (in case latter was not viable and unable to supply power to South Africa)
  • DoE had to increase the allocation for embedded generation (from 200 to at least 500MW)
  • The Department had to be clear and explicit about the inclusion and support of Coal and Nuclear.
  • An Energy Summit had to be convened urgently to map out a clear Energy Plan for the country.
  • The public participation process had to include the poor and marginalised communities and had to ensure that their input and views were considered.

Discussion on the Findings and Observations

Mr M Matlala (ANC) moved that the draft report’s Finding and Observations be accepted and Mr R Mavunda (ANC) supported this. There were no objections.

Mr Matlala asked that some of the figures used to reflect the costs of the various energy options used (in the report) be excluded.

Ms T Gqada (DA) wanted to know what the reasons were to exclude the cost data as it showed transparency.

The Chairperson commented that in the interest of clarity and completeness the clause referring to the cost of nuclear had to be restated. It was not just about scalability but also had to include modularity, demand and electricity costs.

Mr Matlala said that the cost data had to be excluded because there were no persuasive arguments to counter the view that nuclear costs were the cheapest in the long term.

The Chairperson said that it depended on which costs were being referred to (e.g. capital costs or purchase costs). Although the figures were not incorrect (as stated) they were not appropriate in the context of the sentence, hence they had to be excluded.

Ms Gqada said she was in agreement as long as the costs were still reflected (correctly) elsewhere.

Ms Z Faku (ANC) said she supported Mr Matlala’s views. If members were not sure about the absolute accuracy of the figures it could not be used in the report.

The Chairperson said that in his view there was still a long road ahead in resolving some of the aspects in the IRP. It was important that consensus was reached on the big issues. It would not be wise to get agreement on all issues as it would delay the IRP; hence he proposed that the Committee support the IRP and request that the DoE review the matters as proposed above.

This concluded the Committee debate on the report’s Findings and Observations.

The Findings and Observations of the Committee report on the IRP 2018, was accepted by Ms G Nobanda (ANC) and supported by Ms Gqada.

Discussion on the Recommendations

The Chairperson wanted to know if members were in agreement that embedded generation be increased to a minimum of 500MW and members agreed. He said that further investigations by DOE could result in a number higher than 500MW.

He was still concerned about the legality of coal in the IRP as was raised by some environmental and other stakeholders during the public hearings and wanted to clarify this with the Department.

Ms Faku moved for the acceptance of the report and was supported by Ms Gqada. 

The report was duly adopted.

Final comments by the Chairperson

The Chairperson said that the Committee wanted DoE to finalise the IRP as soon as possible. It would not be possible to accommodate all the different views raised during the public hearings, but a balance had to be found in the finalised IRP.

There were two key issues that had to be addressed in the IRP. The first was the importance of job creation; hence the socio economic impact study regarding the decommissioning of coal power plants was important to give a clear view of the impact. Secondly, there had to be a national dialogue on energy - an Energy Summit - where robust discussion was needed on the country’s energy plans and way forward, e.g the future of Eskom and other important matters.

Ms Gqada said she wanted clarity on how the Committee’s approval of the report on the IRP would be impacted by the concern expressed by the Chairperson on the legality of coal in the IRP (as raised by some of the stakeholders). 

The Chairperson responded that a mechanism had to be found to address the concerns raised in the public hearings on the matter.

The DoE delegation left the meeting

This concluded the meeting agenda on the IRP and CPPNM.

Committee Business

The Committee considered several minutes from 2017 and 2018.

The minutes for 2017, related to meetings held from 16 May to 3 October as well as meetings on the 4th of October, the 10th of October, 17th of October, 24th of October, 31st of October, 7th of November, 14th of November and the 28th of October. These minutes were approved without changes to the content, with the exception of a concern raised by Mr Matlala that in some of the meetings he was marked as absent, whilst he was in fact present. The Committee Secretary would check records to resolve the matter

The minutes for 2018, related to meetings held on the 20 February to 6 March as well meetings from the 13th to the 27th of March, the 8th of May, from the 9th of May to the 14th of August, from the 21st of August to the 23 of October, from the 24th of October to the 26th of October, as well the meeting of the 30th of October and those held from the 6th to the 20th of November. All minutes were approved with the exception of the following: the minutes of the 30th of October contained an amendment and Ms Gqada raised a concern that she was marked as absent during some meetings, whilst she was in fact present. The Committee Secretary would check records to resolve the matter

The meeting was adjourned.

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