Karpowership gives game farm to reduce pressure

Henry

Turkish power company Karpowership has offered to buy a game farm and donate it to a provincial wildlife authority in an effort to facilitate environmental approval for one of the three gas-fired power plants it wants to build in South Africa.

In exchange for the game farm, the Turkish company said that Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (formerly the provincial parks board), which manages protected areas in the northeastern parts of KwaZulu-Natal, should not object to its plan for a 450 megawatt, ship-mounted power plant at the Richards Bay Harbor does not.

“The port at Richards Bay creates unique circumstances where this active industrial port, which is largely used for coal export, operates in an estuary,” Karpowership said in a statement sent to Bloomberg.

“Biodiversity offsetting is a form of impact mitigation.”

The deal, which is part of Karpowership’s submission for environmental approval of the plant, is the latest twist in a more than two-year saga in which the company has fought environmental objections and court cases opposing its plans.

Since Karpowership SA was granted power generation licenses in 2021 to generate power at three locations in South Africa, the company has experienced numerous setbacks – and continues to gain momentum.

Earlier this year, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and Environmental Affairs once again rejected Karpowership SA’s request for its project of a 320 megawatt plant at the western port of Saldanha.

Karpowership has already appealed the decision.

According to Karpowership, the department has now also given him permission to proceed with an appeal against a decision that he cannot proceed with a plan to build a 450 megawatt plant at the southern port of Ngqura, following a dispute with the national port operator.

Before the companies can proceed with any of his plans, he will still have to get final environmental approval and sign a power purchase agreement with Eskom.

Dr. Wynand Boshoff, the FF Plus’ spokesperson for mineral resources and energy, says the most difficult hurdle for Karpowership to overcome is environmental approval. The company refers to it as biodiversity exchange.

“This seems highly inappropriate, as environmental clearance for the floating gas-fired power station in the ecologically vulnerable maritime environment of Richards Bay is the obstacle. To think that a game farm – which is by definition on land – can compensate for that, makes no ecological sense,” says Boshoff.

“The incomprehensible part of this offer is that both Karpowership and the government keep trying to push this deal through and that it no longer meets the description ’emergency power’.”

“When it was first discussed in 2021, it was foreseen that power delivery would already start in August 2023. In this time frame, ordinary South Africans (households and businesses) have already installed around four gigawatts of solar power. This is double the two gigawatts that all three Karpowership ships in Richards Bay, Ngqura and Saldanha Bay undertake to deliver.

“Supposing permission were to be obtained today, according to calculations, it will still take around two years to adjust the network in such a way that the ships’ power can be delivered to consumers. The extraordinarily high tariff and the twenty-year contract envisaged were justified precisely by claiming that power ships would quickly alleviate the crisis.”