The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment has refused to authorise Turkey’s Karpowership on environmental grounds, Reuters reports.
“The competent authority in the department has decided, after due consideration of all relevant information, to refuse the applications for the environmental authorisations,” the department said.
Karpowership was named as a major winner in a government emergency power tender designed to help ease crippling load shedding.
South Africa depends on coal for almost all its electricity generation and sought to procure 2,000 megawatts of emergency power because state-owned utility Eskom can’t meet demand and has subjected the country to intermittent blackouts.
Each power ship contains its own generation, electrical control, and substation components. The ship also includes its own maintenance workshop and engineering capabilities.
The onboard substation can be connected to the national grid without lengthy delays or complicated engineering.
However, the deal has been mired in controversy due to how it was approved, as well as environmental concerns around the ships.
Activists and the Democratic Alliance unsuccessfully pressed for a parliamentary inquiry into the award of preferred bidder status to Karpowership, while a rival bidder sued to have the entire tender scrapped, alleging corruption.
Karpowership has denied wrongdoing and said its bids were more competitive than others.
It is understood that the government’s decision can still be appealed.