Eskom has asked the National Treasury for permission to sign an electricity purchase agreement with Karpowership, bringing the Turkish company a step closer to fulfilling a contract it won to supply South Africa’s national grid more than two years ago.
The national power utility said it submitted a Section 54 application to the Treasury, which it has to do to comply with the Public Finance Management Act.
While the application holds out the prospect of bringing more power to the South African grid at a time of regular power cuts, it will stoke controversy as Karpowership’s plan to supply 1,220 MW from gas-fired plants mounted on ships has been staunchly opposed by environmental activists.
Karpowership has seen its attempts to fulfil the agreement to supply power for 20 years delayed by a slew of court cases brought by the activists and a rival bidder.
The company also has until 31 December to complete its financial arrangements, or it may lose its right to access the national grid, a deadline imposed on all bidders who have yet to do so and won supply rights from the government in March 2021.
Karpowership has won approval from the environment department to proceed with two of its three projects so far, meaning it could supply 770 MW. One of those approvals has been appealed against by the activists.