Karpowership South Africa (KPS SA), specialists in floating gas-to-power conversion, showcased a Floating Storage and Regasification Unit (FSRU) vessel in Cape Town before it ventures to its final destination in Rio de Janeiro.
KPS SA plans to berth three of these vessels – one at Richards Bay, one at Saldanha Bay and one at Coega – to generate a combined power of 1.2 GW for the South African grid over a 20-year period.
However, the company has been battling legal challenges, as well as environmental controversies, since winning tenders in March last year to supply two power stations with a generating capacity of 450MW and another with a generation capacity of 320 MW, as part of risk mitigation. Independent Power Producer Supply Program (RMIPPPP).
The RMIPPPP itself is also experiencing delays and has been repeatedly postponed due to “outstanding issues and conditions with Eskom”.
The Ministry of Mineral Resources and Energy issued a request for proposals for RMIPPPP in August 2020, before announcing preferred bidders last year.
Meanwhile, KPS SA organized a media tour of the FSRU this week, highlighting the benefits such a system can bring to the South African market.
The group’s floating liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage and power plant assets eliminate the completion and construction risks associated with onshore assets. It also offers redeployment flexibility and easy scalability. The company can support small projects of 30 MW up to large-scale projects of 3 GW.
The company offers turnkey solutions covering the entire value chain, from fuel supply to power generation, undertaking its own design, development, engineering, procurement, construction, operation and management.
KPS SA, 49% owned by black women, intends to accelerate South Africa’s transition to cleaner fuels and create job opportunities through saving the gas its vessels will create.
Corporate Relations Manager KPS SA Kurt Morais confirms that at least 70% of its employees will be South African, and that it will source expertise, products and services locally as much as possible, and conduct supplier development programs.
The visiting vessel, called Karmol LNGT Asia, is a 272m long FSRU that contains approximately 40 days of power supply, thanks to a tank capacity of 125,000m3.
Business Development Coordinator of parent company Karpowership John Cockin recount Engineering News the process of turning gas into electricity involves an LNG container feeding the FSRU, which stores the gas at minus 163˚C, before it regasifies the LNG into natural gas – if necessary – for transfer via a floating pipeline to a motor ship, which generates the electricity and transmits the electricity to a country’s transmission grid.
Karpowership, through its joint venture with Japanese company Mitsui OSK Lines, called Karmol, owns around 70 floating LNG assets around the world.
In Africa, Karpowership has floating gas-power assets totaling 220 MW in Senegal, 30 MW in Gambia, 30 MW in Guinea Bissau, 105 MW in Guinea, 450 MW in Ghana, 65 MW in Sierra Leone, 80 MW in Mozambique, 134 MW in the Democratic Republic of Congo, 150 MW in Sudan and 200 MW on standby in Côte d’Ivoire.
KPS SA also plans to launch tenders for solar power projects in South Africa in the future.
If the 20-year, 1,220MW RMIPPPP deal goes ahead, it will be Karpowership’s largest project in the world and will cost South Africa up to R218 billion over the term.
To illustrate the speed of execution of the group’s projects, Cockin points out that its tender submission on October 25, in Brazil, went from the authorization of independent electricity producer granted in November, to the signature power purchase contracts in November, up to the FRSU. landed in April.
Four powerships generating 560 MW combined will reach Brazil in May.
Brazil has awarded Karpowership a contract to generate 560 MW of electricity to provide reliable power at a time when the country is accelerating renewable energy production.
Cockin points out that Karpowership best responds to exactly this, with countries undergoing changes to their energy grid, to enable a transition to clean energy. Electricity from gas to electricity compensates for the intermittency problems caused by renewable energies, generally wind and solar.
The FSRU and powerships are quick to deploy, as the company has assets, compared to lengthy onshore power plant builds that span years.
“LNG is a way to access cheaper fuel without building infrastructure and without taking too much risk,” says Cockin, adding that the assets are flexible for redeployment in changing market conditions.