South Africa authorizes construction of floating power plants

South Africa’s National Energy Regulator (Nersa) on Tuesday (September 21) approved production licenses for three controversial floating power plants, amid recurring power shortages in the most industrialized country on the African continent .

Turkish company Karpowership, one of the world’s leading operators of floating power plants, won a government tender in March to develop projects to convert gas to electricity at three ports. But the environment ministry then blocked Karpowership’s permit application due to concerns about the environmental impact. The company had appealed the ministry’s decision and on Tuesday obtained approval from the Nersa, for reasons that were not immediately clarified.

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Environmental groups have raised concerns over the Karpowership plants, which need fuel to convert liquefied natural gas into electricity. Opponents of this type of plant estimate that the project will generate several million tonnes of carbon dioxide in a country that was already the twelfth largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world in 2019, according to Global Carbon Atlas.

A public company in difficulty

Greenpeace Africa said “Disappointed by the inexplicable decision to grant authorization for this destructive and costly project”. “It will lock South Africa on a high emissions trajectory that will derail our commitments to the deal.” [climatique] from Paris “Nhlanhla Sibisi, Greenpeace climate and energy campaigner, said in a statement. Karpowership still needs to obtain several authorizations before it can start construction of its power plants.

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South Africa is looking for alternatives to its struggling state-owned Eskom, coal-fired and crippled by years of mismanagement. Its power plants are constantly breaking down and struggling to meet domestic demand for electricity. Power cuts have been recurring for more than ten years, hampering economic activity and investments.

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The World with AFP