Cape Town - Karpowership South Africa says it will appeal the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment (DFFE)’s rejection of its environmental authorisation applications for three gas to power projects.
The government selected Karpowership SA in March as a preferred bidder to supply about 1 220 megawatts of electricity, a contract worth an estimated R218 billion over two decades.
The company proposed to locate the three powership projects at the Ports of Richards Bay, Ngqura and Saldanha to generate electricity from natural gas to be evacuated through transmission lines to substations linking to the national grid. The powerships were to be assembled off-site and be delivered fully equipped and functional to the different Ports.
However DFFE said after due consideration of all relevant information presented, the department decided to refuse the applications which were submitted in October 2020.
The department said any appeals to the decision should be submitted to the appeal administrator.
Karpowership SA said the decision was made was due to a “misinformation campaign” that aims to derail the project.
“DFFE allowed a misinformation campaign to derail the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s strategic plan to end load shedding and address South Africa’s economic and energy crisis. Karpowership SA, with its three projects, will provide 800 000 South African homes with cleaner, reliable, and affordable power, and South Africans should understand that the decision on behalf of the DFFE threatens the delivery of this power and will extend load shedding for years to come.
“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 against this decision,“ the company said in a statement.
Activists and organisations welcomed the decision.
Liz McDaid from the Green Connection said they believe that the company was going to have a huge impact on the lives of fishers along the coast. “We are very happy that this decision has happened and we hope that this means that environmental consultants in the future should ensure that the voices of communities and concerns are taken into account and properly studied,” she said.
Mining and energy consultant Ted Blom said the Karpowership was an alternative among plenty of other better options.
“I wasn’t too surprised by the rejection, there is a big lobby that is against anything that is not renewable.”
The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) Executive Manager for public governance Julius Kleynhans said: “This was a dubious transaction, given the 20-year ‘emergency’ contract, the estimated R218 billion cost and the allegations of corruption surrounding this. This was particularly problematic against the backdrop of alternatives in green energy options, the lack of meaningful public engagement and serious environmental concerns.”
The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy said they will await formal communication by the referred bidder on the decision by DFFE before making any further pronouncements.