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Karpowership granted licences for floating power generation by SA regulator

22 September 2021 - 07:07 By Wendell Roelf
The licences granted by Nersa are for three ports, namely Coega, Richards Bay and Saldanha Bay.
The licences granted by Nersa are for three ports, namely Coega, Richards Bay and Saldanha Bay.
Image: Supplied

The National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) has granted Turkey’s Karpowership three licences to generate power on floating gas ships at ports, a company spokesperson said.

Nersa confirmed it had approved seven power generation licences for preferred bidders, including three for Karpowership.

Karpowership has faced challenges since the SA government in March granted it the biggest share of a 2,000 megawatt emergency power tender to provide the cheapest and quickest option for electricity.

Its plan to generate power on its floating gas ships and plug it into the SA grid has been stridently opposed by environment activists and local fishing communities.

Besides the power generation licence, the firm needs to clear regulatory hurdles, including environmental approval, and litigation challenging the tender outcome that runs for 20 years needs to be resolved.

“We have confirmation from Nersa on generation licences and are very happy to be moving forward,” said a Karpowership spokesperson, adding the licences were for three ports — Coega, Richards Bay and Saldanha Bay — that would collectively supply about 1,200MW of capacity.

Nersa said generation licenses were also approved for two battery energy storage projects selected during the bidding round, one involving Saudi Arabian utility developer ACWA Power and another separate battery project, Mulilo Total Hydra Storage, where a unit of TotalEnergies held a 33% shareholding.

In June, the department of forestry, fisheries and the environment refused environmental approvals for the three gas-to-power projects for reasons including that they did not comply with public participation rules.

Earlier in September, a high court agreed to postpone an appeal against the emergency tender brought by DNG Energy, a local company, which was not chosen from 11 preferred bidders and wants the decision overturned.

Any delays in finalising the emergency power tender could prolong an energy crisis that has cost Africa’s largest industrial nation billions in lost revenue due to regular electricity blackouts.