Our Burning Planet


Karpowership deal sinking fast as Environment Department says ‘no deal’

A powership belonging to the Turkish company Karpowership. (Photo: karpowership.com)

Glug, glug, glug... This seems to be the final fate of the controversial multibillion Turkish ‘emergency powerships’ deal, after senior government officials confirmed today that they have refused to grant environmental approval for the entire project.

The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries said in a statement that “after due consideration of all relevant information” it had decided to refuse all three applications from Karpowership for environmental authorisation – based on the inadequacy of the environmental impact assessment and public consultation process.

Daily Maverick and amaBhungane have also brought to light several other questionable aspects around the floating powerships deal over the past few months, including dodgy exemptions in the approval process that are now being investigated by the Green Scorpions, along with separate allegations of corrupt procedures made by a rival power bidder.

Quite apart from the climate change and other environmental impacts associated with the Turkish proposal to moor several gas-burning powerships in Richards Bay, Saldanha Bay and Ngqura harbours, a senior CSIR engineer has estimated that the gas-to-electricity project could cost taxpayers more than R200-billion over 20 years.

The department has advised Karpowership that it can lodge an appeal against the decision, but with barely a month left before it is required to reach financial closure for the Eskom emergency power procurement deal, it seems unlikely that the Turkish company and its environmental consultants can remedy the faults in the hastily prepared environmental impact assessment (EIA) that has now failed to pass muster.

But Karpowership has not thrown in the towel.

In a statement on Thursday afternoon, Karpowership claimed the Environment Department had “allowed a misinformation campaign funded by special interests” to derail the deal.

The company said it had conducted a “robust public participation process”, “met all South Africa’s stringent environmental requirements” and it remained “confident that it will win the appeal against this decision”.

The department clearly saw things differently, however, saying the EIA failed to meet the “minimum requirements” for proper public participation and it had also failed to conduct adequate studies on underwater noise impacts in the three harbours.

Sabelo Malaza, the department’s chief director for integrated environmental authorisations, also voiced concern that prior to submitting a final EIA report to his department, Karpowership’s environmental consultants, Triplo4, made significant changes to the report which were not communicated to stakeholders.

Several documents had also been removed from the Triplo4 website and only restored for public access after a series of complaints from interested and affected parties.

This is a developing story and will be updated for the next edition. DM/OBP


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Marcel Anceaux says:

    First big step, now the WHOLE RMIPPPP should be cancelled as it is irrational, uneconomical, and could do without any fossil fuel fuel powered back up.
    Wind, PV- solar, combined with storage, so called BESS, battery energy storage systems, and probably CSP+TS, concentrated solar power with thermal storage can be built, and supply pure clean power for less than R 1/kWh when
    1- projects are large enough, not just restricted to less than 150 MW. Economies of scale are hugely important to bring kWh prices down.
    2- All requirements for BBBEE, community participation, local content are scrapped.
    3- All other licensing, red tape, bureaucratic hurdles are removed as much as possible, or at least simplified.
    Prices now in the several planned RMIPPPP proposals stand at R 1.45-1.88/kWh.
    Energy expert Clyde Mallinson calculated two months back that 5 GW of wind + PV solar with BESS can be built and produce at 60 cts/kWh. The next bid window 5 of REIPP projects should be 5 GW, and be adjusted as above.

    • Johan Buys says:


      If there was an ideal site:
      – an end of life coal station has massive grid interconnection already in place. Cost for T&D almost zero.
      – good solar slopes and productivity (over 1700 Wac per year per Wdc)
      – good evening wind profile (over 3500h productivity at capacity)
      But one had to satisfy capacity for 6000h per year specifically including all peak hours,
      and one were allowed to supplement with gas/diesel for some small percentage of energy; then

      You would be hard-pressed to implement solar, wind, battery, diesel and make a fair profit with a selling price below R1,60/kWh and fixed escalation 20y 5%. You will beat coal or nuclear but you won’t be dirt cheap.

  • C. M. says:

    Great news!

  • Ritchie Morris says:

    Great news. May sense and (renewable) cents now prevail.
    Whilst the underwater noise is mentioned as a missed issue, the above water noise in amphitheaters of Richards Bay and Saldanha also lack detail. Imagine living in Langebaan and Saldanha with a powerships large generators running for 20 years – never mind the air pollution.

  • Alan Paterson says:

    I’m very happy about this but will be even happier when Karpowership sinks beneath the waves completely and the cronies have to think through another get rich scheme.

  • Ian Hall says:

    Load shedding for another 20 years then…

  • John Bestwick says:

    What you say Mr.Dinosaur. you and your corrupt deoartment must sink with this project you tried by hook or crook to foist on us. Stand down from Cabinet mr.MBA

  • Coen Gous says:

    Whow, what can one say! Barbara Creecy, you are a hero in my eyes, one of the very few in the ANC. A White women, whom kicked an architect of State Capture, Mantashe, on his butt (very big I dare to say) big time.

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