How South Africa Can End its Power Crisis with Floating Power Plants

by Victor Adetimilehin

South Africa is facing a severe power crisis that has disrupted the lives and livelihoods of millions of people. The country’s state-owned utility, Eskom, is unable to meet the demand for electricity due to ageing coal plants, debt, corruption, and sabotage. The frequent power cuts, known as load shedding, have cost the economy billions of dollars and sparked social unrest.

But there is a solution that could help South Africa overcome its energy woes: floating power plants. These are ships that can generate electricity from natural gas or liquid fuels and plug directly into the national grid. They are fast, flexible, and reliable, and can be deployed within a month of signing a contract.

One company that offers this solution is Karpowership, which owns and operates the world’s largest fleet of floating power plants, called Powerships. The company has been awarded a contract to supply 1.2 gigawatts of electricity to South Africa as part of the government’s Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (RMIPPPP). The Powerships will be moored alongside Floating Storage Regasification Units (FSRUs), which will provide access to the international liquefied natural gas (LNG) market.

Karpowership claims that its solution is cheaper and cleaner than using diesel plants, which Eskom currently relies on to supplement supply. Natural gas is considered a cleaner bridging fuel to renewable energy, as it emits less carbon dioxide and other pollutants than coal. Karpowership also says that its solution will improve South Africa’s environmental baseline and help the country transition to renewable energy sources.

The company has a strong presence in Africa, with eight operational projects in Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, The Gambia, Mozambique, Sudan, Sierra Leone, and Guinea Bissau. It also operates in Latin America, Asia, and Oceania, with countries like Brazil and Indonesia benefiting from its floating power plants.

However, not everyone is convinced by Karpowership’s proposal. Some environmental groups have raised concerns about the impact of the project on marine life and climate change. They have also questioned the transparency and legality of the procurement process, alleging that Karpowership was favoured over other bidders. The company has denied any wrongdoing and said that it complies with all environmental and regulatory standards.

The contract is still subject to final approval by the government and regulatory authorities. If approved, Karpowership hopes to start delivering power to South Africa by August 2023. The company says that its solution will help end the country’s power crisis and support its economic recovery and development.

Source: Financial Times

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