26th February 2024 9:22 am
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What Karpowership means for the loadshedding stages

  • Karpowership, a company that uses power station-fitted ships to generate electricity, has been approved to dock three vessels off the coast of South Africa.
  • Together, the three vessels can generate 1 200MW of power, comparable to little more than a single stage of loadshedding.
  • While the company is still seeking environmental approval to begin supplying to Eskom, some are criticising its 20-year deal with government, which will cost taxpayers between R200 billion to R500 billion, or more.

After around three years of delays, Turkish energy firm Karpowership is now able to moor their floating mini-powers stations to South Africa’s ports, and could soon begin exporting electricity to the country’s energy grid.

Karpowership uses ships decked out in power station equipment and natural gas to generate electricity, which it supplies to countries across the world. The company has ongoing deals with the governments of the Ivory Coast, Brazil, Gambia, Ghana, Senegal, Mozambique and Indonesia, among others.

It had past projects in Iraq, Lebanon and Zambia.

For South Africa, the plan is for three Karpowership “Khan” or similar class vessels to be stationed at harbours across the country’s coast.

According to Bloomberg, this includes a 450MW ship in Richard’s Bay, KwaZulu-Natal, a 320MW ship in the port of Saldanha in the Western Cape, and an additional 450MW is slated for the Port of Ngqura, near Gqeberha in the Eastern Cape.

Together, the three ships could supply 1 220MW of electricity to South Africa, which according to Eskom’s own standards, is comparable to just over a single stage of loadshedding. Estimates on what the 20-year license will cost the country range from conservative R200 billion to upward limits of R500 billion or more.

While Karpowership is still seeking regulatory approval from the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environment before it can officially begin supplying electricity to Eskom, the company has been approved to moor its ships for the next 20 years.

In the past, the deal between Karpowership and the South African government faced hurdles including challenges from environmental rights groups, that claim generating power with natural gas that may contain sulphur on the coastlines is dangerous to aquatic fauna and flora.

Accordingly, it is only a matter time before approvals are granted with the South African government under heavy pressure to alleviate some of the strain seemingly endless power outages are placing on the country’s economy.

Especially as Eskom prepares South Africans for the worst levels of loadshedding yet in the coming winter months.

Critics of the deal between the company and SA government say that the 20-year period of the license is far too long. Eskom, and other government officials have stated again and again that loadshedding will be a thing of the past in the next two to three years.

Especially as no other country Karpowership operates in has a deal for as long. In Ghana, for example, Karpowership signed a 10-year deal with the country for the deployment of a 450MW vessel, according to the company’s website.

The costs for the three ships also increased dramatically over the last three years, due to global economic conditions worsening, including effects from the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Whether or not Karpowership’s single stage of loadshedding is worth the billions of rand taxpayers will be doling out over the next twenty years, depends on how much difference it makes in the long run.

While some would be fine paying extra in their electricity tariffs for Stage 8 to become Stage 7, others would find any pricing increases too much, especially as the cost of living crisis squeezes the middle class and the poor.

[Image – Karpowership]

Luis Monzon

Luis Monzon

Journalist. Covering education, AAA gaming and consumer tech. Reach me at Luis@htxt.co.za.

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