- “Powerships”, which produce energy from liquefied natural gas, will be on South African shores around August 2022.
- This comes as a Turkish-based company was awarded three bids to ease the pressure on Eskom.
- Moored at Saldanha, Richards Bay and Gqeberha, these floating power plants will feed energy back into the grid at a cheaper cost than Eskom’s current diesel-burn rate.
- But it is much more detrimental to the environment than solar or wind power.
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Three floating power stations, which uses Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to produce electricity, will be docked at Saldanha, Richards Bay and Gqeberha as part of South Africa’s Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (RMIPPPP).
Karpowership, a member of Karadeniz Energy Group based in Istanbul, Turkey, has been named as a successful bidder to supply a portion of the 2,000MW required to supplement South Africa’s fragile power grid.
Eight successful bids were confirmed by the Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe on Thursday afternoon.
Bids were officially opened to Independent Power Producers (IPPs) in December 2019 and, within a year, attracted a total of 28 responses representing a generating capacity of 5,117MW.
The Turkish-based company, which is expected to dock its “powerships” in South African waters around August 2022, has previously promised to deliver energy to Eskom at a cheaper rate than what it costs the utility to burn diesel to generate electricity - something it does in emergencies.
Karpowership’s initial attempt to supply emergency energy during the height of South Africa’s Covid-19 pandemic was revoked by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF).
Karpowership currently owns and operates 25 floating power stations which supply 4,350MW of energy to 11 countries, including Gambia, Ghana, Mozambique, Cuba, and Indonesia.
The advantages of these LNG-to-power ship include swift delivery and operational times.
A floating plant can be operational within 100 days - compared to the years it takes to build a conventional coal-fired station. These powerships require a fuel connection – either from onshore facilities or transfer from a secondary ship – but do not require any land.
Currently, only around 3% of South Africa’s energy mix involves LNG and while much more expensive than coal, gas-power is cheaper than the diesel used to run Eskom’s Open Cycle Gas Turbines.
But environmental groups have raised concerns around the continued use of fossil fuels. Researchers have warned that Karpowership’s 20-year contract could generate close to 20 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per site. The Richards Bay Clean Air Association has been particularly critical of Karpowership’s environmental impact assessments.
Earlier assessments involved the “Khan” and “Shark” class of powerships, which produce 470MW and 240MW respectively.