Activists reject the SA government’s gas supply plans

A collective of environmental and climate justice groups filed remarks to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa), rejecting the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) gas supply plans.

Rejecting the proposal are GroundWork, the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance, Natural Justice and the Center for Environmental Rights. The collective says the proposed plan is vague, unnecessary and threatens the constitutional rights of South Africans. The objections are supported by Earthlife Africa, The Green Connection,, Oceans Not Oil and Project 90 by 2030.

The plan is in addition to the 3,000 MW proposed in the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP2019). The IRP establishes a plan to acquire 1,000 MW in 2023 and 2,000 MW in 2027, taking into account the environment, port problems and transmission. The plan adds that the additional energy “represents low gas use, which is unlikely to justify the development of new gas infrastructure and power plants …”

The organizations became aware of the plan after Nersa announced public participation on August 26 for three determinations under section 34 of the Electricity Regulation Act 2006, proposed by DMRE Minister Gwede Mantashe. The determinations of section 34 establish guidelines and regulations for the energy procurement process.

The three determinations proposed by Mantashe include 14,791 MW of renewable energy for storage, solar and wind power from 2024 to 2030; 1,000 MW of biomass for 2023 and 2024, as well as 3,000 MW of gas / diesel from 2024 to 2027; the last is that the organizations of determination are arguing.

Public consultation

In a statement, the coalition said the gas procurement proposal lacks adequate public consultation, lacks key information, and is not informed by electricity needs and low-cost planning or assessments. crucial impact.

The coalition said the plan was vague and in conflict with the law and the Constitution due to the unjustified damage caused by the new gas development, the lack of alignment with the 2006 Electricity Regulation Act, and the lack of specifications for the authorization. (and disputed) of Eskom gas-fired power station in Richards Bay.

“Energy modeling shows that renewable energies are the fastest and cheapest way to feed much needed capacity into the grid. By committing to harmful and expensive gas, the government is replacing this much-needed renewable capacity and the most practical solution to SA’s load reduction problems, ”said Avena Jacklin, senior climate and energy justice activist for GroundWork.

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Reducing global greenhouse gas emissions to keep temperature rise below 1.5 ° C, in line with the Paris Agreement, requires a steep one-third drop in fossil fuel dependence between 2020 and 2030, according to the latest models of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This puts the development of any new gas infrastructure at risk of becoming stranded assets; paying a bill that will long outlive its purpose.

As South Africa is once again experiencing high levels of continuing blackouts, the energy plan announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in July has yet to go into effect. Among the announcements was Mantashe making determinations for additional capacity as required by the IRP, as well as a demand for gas power as soon as possible.

Read more in Daily Maverick: “Here it is: Ramaphosa’s “energy action plan” to end SA’s continuing blackouts

The IRP says that recoverable local shale and coastal gas are being pursued and this needs to be accelerated as they have great potential. Gas, says the IRP, “could be a central part of our strategy for regional economic integration within [the Southern African Development Community]”.

However, the document adds: “Concerns and risks have also been raised about the capacity provided and the practicality of gas for electricity in the recommended plan and the risks it entails, as South Africa does not currently have a adequate gas infrastructure “.

Richards Bay Gas to Power Plant is the proposed solution to the lack of gas infrastructure. The project has also been challenged in court, in a historic case, as groundWork and the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance seek to review the plant’s environmental permit, citing the lack of adequate public participation.

Read more on Daily Maverick: “Richards Bay floating gas power plant faces turbulent legal water

“It was not said with so many words, but with the determination of the minister [Mantashe] and the Nersa competition are almost tailor-made for the Eskom plant [Richards Bay]in terms of location, client, “said Gabrielle Knott, a lawyer with the Center for Environmental Rights.

He added that there were many questions about the determination, such as where the gas will come from, as well as the shortening of the process of public participation on the issue, with the current continuous blackout periods being used to support the acceleration of the process. Knott added that if Nersa did not address the concerns raised by the organizations, legal action would be considered.

“This determination deliberately ignores all evidence that gas in the future electricity mix is ​​not part of a low-cost electricity plan for South Africa. Any gas capacity will simply add to rising electricity costs and further exacerbate inequality and economic recession in South Africa, “Knott said. DM / OBP

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