S.Africa grants Turkey's Karpowership licences for floating power generation

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Electricity pylons carrying power from Koeberg nuclear power plant are seen in Cape Town, South Africa July 11, 2018. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham//File Photo

CAPE TOWN, Sept 21 (Reuters) - South African energy regulator Nersa has granted Turkey's Karpowership three licences to generate power on floating gas ships at ports, a company spokesperson said on Tuesday.

The National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) confirmed in a statement that it had approved a total of seven power generation licences for preferred bidders, including three for Karpowership.

Karpowership has faced numerous challenges since the South African government in March granted it the biggest share of a 2,000 megawatt emergency power tender to provide the cheapest and quickest option for electricity.

Its plan to generate power on its floating gas ships and plug it into the South African grid has been stridently opposed by environment activists and local fishing communities.

Besides the power generation licence, the firm needs to clear several regulatory hurdles, including environmental approval, and litigation challenging the tender outcome that runs for 20 years needs to be resolved.

"We have confirmation from Nersa on generation licences and are very happy to be moving forward," said a Karpowership spokesperson, adding the licences were for three ports - Coega, Richards Bay and Saldanha Bay - that would collectively supply around 1,200 MW of capacity.

Nersa said generation licenses were also approved for two battery energy storage projects selected during the bidding round, one involving Saudi Arabian utility developer ACWA Power and another separate battery project, Mulilo Total Hydra Storage, where a unit of TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA) held a 33% shareholding.

In June, the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment refused environmental approvals for the three gas-to-power projects for reasons including that it did not comply with public participation rules. read more

Earlier in September, a South African high court agreed to postpone an appeal against the emergency tender brought by DNG Energy, a local company, which was not chosen from 11 preferred bidders and wants the decision overturned.

Any delays in finalising the emergency power tender could prolong an energy crisis that has cost Africa's largest industrial nation billions of dollars in lost revenue due to regular electricity blackouts.

Reporting by Wendell Roelf; editing by Barbara Lewis and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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