Another big win for power ships in South Africa

 ·24 Nov 2023

Karpowership, the provider of ship-mounted power plants, said it won environmental authorization for the second of three projects it wants to connect to the South African grid, a further step in fulfilling a contract it won more than two years ago. 

The Turkish company said the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment gave it permission to go ahead with the installation of a 320-megawatt gas-fired plant in the western port of Saldanha.

Last month it won approval for a 450-megawatt plant at the northeastern port of Richards Bay.

While the company must still sign a power purchase agreement with Eskom and complete financial arrangements before it can proceed, its environmental authorization applications have been the subject of a number of legal challenges from activists. A fresh appeal was mounted against the Richards Bay project this week. 

“These are critical milestones in the journey to combating South Africa’s energy crisis,” Karpowership said in a statement on Friday, referring to near-daily outages imposed on South Africans by state utility Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd.

Karpowership has also applied to install a 450-megawatt plant in the southern port of Ngqura.

The company won about 60% of a government tender in March 2021 to supply 2,000 MW to ease chronic power shortages. While the initial production target date for Karpowership and others who won contracts was August 2022, none of the projects are up and running yet.

Activists have objected to Karpowership’s planned use of gas, a fossil fuel, and the potential impact of its so-called power ships and associated gas storage vessels on sea life and small-scale fishing. An unsuccessful court case by a rival bidder that failed to win a contract also delayed its projects.

Read: Big turn for power ships in South Africa

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