The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF) has revoked a directive granted to Turkish company Karpowership SA for activities linked to emergency power generation.
This comes after warning bells were sounded by environmentalists and law experts via South African media about the floating power plant company applying for an environmental exemption during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The DEFF said in a statement that when Karpowership SA had initially submitted its request the company had indicated the country’s electricity supply was under threat because of the increased pressure on the healthcare system as a result of the pandemic. They made the request to ensure an uninterrupted supply of energy to the healthcare sector, something Eskom was unable to guarantee.
The Department verbally approved the request on 26 June and later, following receipt of confirmation that all environmental requirements would be met, the directive was confirmed in writing on 6 July 2020.
“It has subsequently emerged that the company had applied for the verbal directive in advance, in preparation for the possible implementation of the government’s Integrated Resources Plan, and in the event that the company would be selected as an emergency power producer.
“However, this information was not disclosed to the department when the company motivated for the verbal directive to be issued for the Section 30A activities, which are, in essence, an emergency provision.
“In light of the fact that it has now emerged that there was in fact no emergency situation, the Department has withdrawn the verbal authorisation and subsequent written directive for the commencement of activities listed in Section 30A of the National Environmental Management Act on 13 August 2020,” the DEFF said.
Emergency generation of power
Karpowership, an affiliate of the Istanbul-based Karadeniz Energy Group, developed their mobile power station concept ten years ago and have been active in countries such as Iraq, Gambia, Mozambique and Sudan.
Recently they put in a bid when South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy published a request for information for suppliers to provide between 2,000 and 3,000MW of electricity for the national grid.
That invitation, issued in December 2019, said a key bidding requirement was short lead times – the potential power providers would have to get their new plants up and running within three months to a year of getting approval from government. It said any bidding companies needed to secure environmental authorisation.
No contracts have been issued yet stemming out of this DMRE request for information to supply emergency power and the DEFF’s statement simply said Karpowership had accepted the notice and would not challenge the Department’s decision to revoke the verbal directive.
Source: ESI Africa