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Karpowerships given go ahead to dock in SA’s ports

A man protesting on the beach.

The Green Connection and some Saldanha fishermen protest in Saldanha against Nersa's licensing of Karpowerships in September 2021. The Karpowership powerships are floating power plants that use gas as fuel to generate electricity, which is then fed into the electricity grid. Picture: Henk Kruger/African News Agency (ANA) Archive

Published May 19, 2023


Cape Town - Transport Minister Sindi Chikunga has given the go ahead to plans by Karpowerships to use three ports to supply electricity in the country to ease load shedding.

Deputy President Paul Mashatile said on Thursday in KwaZulu-Natal, that the government had opted for emergency power through the use of power ships to reduce the severity of blackouts.

Last week President Cyril Ramaphosa told Parliament that the use of power ships was the quickest way to resolve the energy crisis.

Electricity Minister Kgosientsho Ramokgopa told a conference in Cape Town this week that the use of power ships was inevitable.

The Karpowership powerships are floating power plants use gas as fuel to generate electricity, which is then fed into the electricity grid.

Ramokgopa said it took just three months to connect the power ships to the grid.

Opening new bid windows for renewable energy projects, Gwede Mantashe, who is in charge of minerals and energy portfolio, said there was nothing wrong in using this form of emergency power.

The Department of Transport confirmed that it had granted Karpowerships access to the ports of Saldanha Bay, Richards Bay and Ngqura for 20 years.

This approval was given in February and it is for a period of 20 years.

“The approval is in line with the National Ports Act No.12 of 2005, which gives powers to the minister to approve applications of this nature. The minister considered the application in terms of National Ports Act Section 79(1)(a) and (b) to safeguard the national security of the country and to discharge the international obligations of the Republic.

“The Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) was consulted and supported the approval of the application. It is for this reason that the minister gave the TNPA latitude to make necessary decisions in implementing this directive, such as considering the safety measures and operationality of this directive,” said the department.

The department said there were conditions attached to the Karpowership deal to moor its ships in the three ports.

“TNPA reserves the right to include all the necessary commercial and safety requirements or agreements that are considered necessary during the period of this directive.

“The directive is also subject to all other government approvals such as environmental approvals from competent government departments and/or authorities.”

Ramokgopa said they needed as many megawatts as possible to bolster energy supply in the country.

Ramokgopa said Eskom would have to build new lines of megawatts in the next 10 years.

This after it installed 4 200km of power supply lines in the last few years.

“Minister Mantashe did say that we are accelerating bid windows to ensure that we get 5 000MW of wind and PV. What is important here is to marry the areas of potential production of this renewable to areas where there is grid capacity whilst we continue to work on expanding grid capacity.

“To give you a sense Eskom says it takes on average 5-8 years to lay new lines. To put it into context the amount of grid capacity that is required over the past 10 years Eskom has rolled out about 4 200km of new line.

“For us to meet the requirements going into the future, our expectations and our commitment to the nationally determined contribution we need to roll out in the next 10 years 14 000km of lines.You can see the scale of proportion.

“We will also do the emergency generation programme. It’s inevitable we are going to go to the power ships programme. Essentially, generation mounted on the ships. It takes them on average, as they put it, about three months to get it on stream,” said Ramokgopa.

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