Huge boost for power ships in South Africa

 ·1 Aug 2023

Eskom has extended the right of at least two companies to connect to South Africa’s power grid, keeping the struggling projects alive.

Karpowership, a Turkish provider of electricity from ship-mounted power plants, had grid access extended from 31 July 2023 until the end of the year, it said to Bloomberg Monday. The access is for its three projects announced in 2021 that collectively could produce 1,220 megawatts.

Mulilo, which is part of two groups that in 2021 won bids to provide a total of 395 megawatts, has also preserved its right to grid access.

Eskom didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Both companies submitted bids in a so-called emergency power round that South Africa concluded in March 2021 as it struggled to ease power outages that have worsened since.

Of the 2,000 megawatts of projects that were successful, only Scatec ASA – which is providing 150 megawatts of solar power – has achieved financial close. The rest of the projects were earlier given until the end of December to do so.

Delays have beset the emergency-power program. Karpowership has seen its plans frustrated by lawsuits and environmental challenges. A surge in construction costs globally has also complicated attempts by the bid winners to make financial arrangements.

Grid access is in short supply in South Africa. The amount of transmission capacity is insufficient, and in the wrong part of the country, for the swath of renewable energy projects being erected in a race to alleviate the country’s worst blackouts yet.

In December, a government award for 3,200 megawatts of wind energy failed because there was no grid connection available. Acwa Power, TotalEnergies, and Electricite de France SA also have stakes in winning bids.

Read: Eskom’s new company gets the green light

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