With the delayed construction of power plants to address the current electricity shortfall in South Africa, the time has come to investigate non-traditional methods of power supply to the country. One option that could be up for consideration is the use of offshore powerships.
Karadeniz Energy Group, the energy wing of Turkish-based Karadeniz Holding, is spearheading the construction of four powerships with a combined electricity generation capacity of 2,000MW.
This would be part of a medium-term contract, which the company believes would be best-suited to meet South Africa’s electricity needs. The four ships would be stationed at different locations around the country.
The first of these ships is in the early stages of production and may be ring-fenced to address the specific needs of South Africa’s national electricity grid.
The newest product in Karpowership’s fleet under construction, when finished, will be the world’s largest floating power plant measuring 300m in length, 50m in height and weighing in at 46,000 tons. Designed to become a pioneer in the market, with a capacity of 500MW, the ship will take the helm as the largest of its kind in the world.
Niece of chairman Orhan Karadeniz, business development manager Zeynep Harazi says that the powerships can be seen as a mobile, one-stop solution. “All that is needed to generate power can be found onboard including fuel storage, accommodation, high-voltage sub-station, and a maintenance shop. It comes as a complete solution, ready to plug-and-play and deliver electricity to the grid,” she explains.
The only on-land infrastructure the company would need to build is pylons to link the ships to the national power grid. However, third generation head of the family firm, Orhan Karadeniz explains that if marine infrastructure needed to be built, it would slow the operation down. The construction of a breakwater, for example, would take approximately three months to build.
“By avoiding the construction of land-based infrastructure, we are looking at providing a no-corruption solution,” says Orhan. “We steer clear of having to deal with any land mafia, customs or local agencies…there is no need to negotiate with land rights and it eliminates corruption items that land-based power plants face.”
Patrick O’Driscoll, sales director of Karpowership, a subsidiary of Karadeniz Energy Group, says that once the order confirmation for the ship has been received, turnaround time is approximately nine to 12 months.
Karpowership presented the energy solution to Eskom and South Africa’s Department of Energy earlier this year during a visit to the country and is currently awaiting an invitation to begin negotiations.
Prior to this presentation, Karadeniz identified that Richard’s Bay, Saldhana Bay, Coega and Koeberg would be the ideal locations to place the ships.
Orhan says, “These locations are equipped with a port and an industrial zone already operating in the bay area itself – you’re not defacing a beach resort for example. The capacity of the ports is currently sitting there… even in Cape Town harbour.”
In Saldhana or Koeberg, the ship would be anchored 150m offshore and would be connected directly to the grid by electricity pylons and overhead line.
The ships can be anchored offshore in protected waters or moored to a jetty, inside of a breakwater constructed by Karpowership.
According to the company, “the engagement has been purely information sharing about the medium-term solution the company could potentially provide to help alleviate South Africa’s current energy challenges.”