(Bloomberg) — Karpowership, the Turkish company seeking to supply 1,220 megawatts of electricity to South Africa, had its environmental application to moor a ship-mounted power plant at the port of Saldanha Bay suspended after allegations that the views of small-scale fisheries were misrepresented.
Triplo4 Sustainable Solutions, the company’s consultant, was given until March 17 to respond to allegations by environmental nonprofit The Green Connection that it used the views of commercial fishing companies and aquaculture operators to represent those of smaller operators.
The Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment “will initiate an investigation,” it said in letters to The Green Connection, Triplo4 and Karpowership sent to Bloomberg.
The suspension is a blow to both Karpowership and South Africa, which is struggling with its worst-ever electricity outages. The Turkish company won the tender to supply the power in March 2021, but has been unable to do so because of a series of lawsuits and complaints by rival bidders and environmental groups.
The Saldanha project, which involves the installation of a 320-megawatt gas-fired power plant on South Africa’s west coast, is one of three. An environmental application to moor a 450-megawatt powership at the southern port of Coega has been refused, according to a person familiar with the matter, while the fate of a 450-megawatt project at Richards Bay on the east coast is unknown.
The environment department, which had until March 7 to make decisions on the applications, has yet to make a public statement.
Triplo4 and Karpowership didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. Business Day reported the suspension earlier.
While Gwede Mantashe, the energy minister, has repeatedly said Karpowership should be allowed to proceed with its plans, Barbara Creecy, the environment minister, has said environmental concerns shouldn’t be disregarded in addressing the power crisis.
South Africa has suffered intermittent blackouts since 2008 that are now becoming a key political issue before elections next year, with opinion polls indicating that the governing African National Congress may lose its majority for the first time since taking power in 1994.
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