South African Emergency Powership Deal Scrapped Due to Environmental Concerns

Image sourced from Karpowership SA.

Karpowership has been refused environmental approvals for three gas-to-power projects in South Africa.

Approvals were blocked by the country’s Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment for reasons including that it did not comply with public participation rules.

The Turkish company gained significant media attention after it was announced the winner in a 2000 megawatt (MW) government emergency power tender designed to help ease the massive strain on South Africa’s embattled power utility Eskom and lessen the impact of the rolling blackouts the country faces every year.

Scrapping this deal will only further delay the government in bolstering the country’s power grid which could prolong national power cuts costing an already weakened economy billions of dollars and undermining future investments.

Reuters reports that three of Karpowership’s floating natural gas power stations – able to produce a combined 1200 MW – were selected as preferred bidders for the tender in March.

“The Competent Authority in the Department has decided, after due consideration of all relevant information … to refuse the applications for the environmental authorisations,” the environment department says in a statement.

The Department continues to say that authorisations were not granted because the environmental impact of the Karpowership projects could not be properly evaluated because of the lack of a proper underwater noise study as well as other “significant gaps and limitations.”

Karpowership SA Looks to Appeal

Karpowership is however aiming to appeal the decision and claims to be confident in their success.

“Karpowership SA conducted a robust public participation process, met all South Africa’s stringent environmental requirements and is confident that it will win the appeal,” a spokesperson said in a statement

The company made further claims that it was the victim of a “misinformation campaign”.

Environmental groups in the country welcomed the decision to refuse approvals.

“This shows community voices matter, … it cannot be that projects that compromise livelihoods get approved,” said Liziwe McDaid, strategic lead for the environmental justice group Green Connection.

What are Powerships?

Imagine them as small, privately-owned floating power stations that moor off the coast of a country and generate backup power.

They are designed to supply power 24-hours a day, seven days a week. The electrical supply is managed on-board, with a sophisticated control room that matches the control facilities of any high-end modern land-based power station.

Powerships generate electricity in a number of high power alternators in their hulls, which are fed by fuel lines that lead to fuel storage tanks from the respective harbour’s storage facilities.

Each ship also has a backup fuel tank on-board to prevent any unnecessary power interruptions.

A few ships off the coast of South Africa could effectively eliminate the need for load-shedding, EE Publishing writes.

By Luis Monzon
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