Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe has told Members of Parliament his department is not in the business of lobbying for one form of energy over the other, adding that it is that his department was only concerned with securing sustainable energy supply security.
Mantashe was addressing the select committee on land reform, environment, mineral resources and energy on Tuesday morning. The address comes after a bumper week of budget votes from Cabinet ministers last week, including Mantashe’s own in the mineral resources portfolio.
His remarks also come after concern from energy expert, Chris Yelland, that he would push for more coal power in the integrated resource plan (IRP), thus undermining any opportunity for renewables to have any opportunity to have sufficient traction.
Mantashe told the committee that the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy was still on course to gazette the IRP within the next month and a half.
“We, as the department, are working at breakneck speed to finalise the IRP by September. It is a summary of what we must do and gives a framework to our approach in energy. We can’t lobby for any technology over the other. Our preoccupation is energy supply security,” said Mantashe.
Mantashe said the IRP needed to include as many forms of energy as possible if it were to make South Africa’s energy supply resilient.
“Inside the IRP, you will get coal, nuclear, gas, petroleum, renewables, wind, water, all of them are there. One of the most reckless things we have done which we must correct quickly is that we don’t account for these after they have reached the end of their life cycle,” Mantashe said.
He said Koeberg nuclear power station comes to the end of its life in 2024, after which its life would be extended by 20 years.
“We have not asked what we do in the space of nuclear beyond the extension of Koeberg’s life. Many stations and facilities come to the end of their life in the coming years but we don’t talk about how to maintain their capacity,” he said.