Even the development of coal-fired power stations by independent power producers will take three to four years, once the Department of Energy (DoE) completes its current procurement process. It is planning to procure 600MW of generation capacity in this way.
In the interim the country’s exposure to regular load shedding could be mitigated by floating power stations moored in cities like Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth and Durban.
Moneyweb reader Simon Norton, a Cape Town corrosion consultant, brought this possibility to Moneyweb’s attention. The energy specialists we subsequently tested it with confirm that it is a real possibility.
Turkish Karadeniz Energy Group is one of several companies globally that rent powerships to countries experiencing temporary power constraints.
According to the company’s website, Karadeniz powerships “are high technology floating power plants designed and constructed to fulfill the urgent electricity needs of the countries through rental contracts of power purchase agreements (PPA)”.
A PPA is an agreement of guaranteed electricty off-take at an agreed upon tariff. The development of renewable energy projects under the DoE’s bid program is also subject to PPAs.
Karadeniz says on its website the powerships are delivered to client countries as a complete power plant ready to operate immediately. The capacity of individual ships range from 45MW to 500MW.
They operate on either liquid fuel or natural gas or a combination of the two and can provide uninterrupted electricity at various high voltage levels.
Eskom spokesperson Andrew Etzinger says the utility rented a barge-mounted turbine in 2006 when power generation at the Koeberg nuclear power plant in the Western Cape was reduced due to the incident with an errant bolt. The barge was rented for a few months to supplement power supply to the Western Cape.
Etzinger says a powership with a generation capacity of 310MW, like that of Karadeniz, should be capable of powering a town like East London. The idea is however not to make a town self-sufficient, but rather to feed the electricty into the national grid.