Turk­ish ‘pow­er­ships’ ride wave of en­ergy crises amid COVID-19 out­break

Arab News - - Business News - AFP Alti­nova, Turkey

A Turk­ish com­pany’s ex­per­tise in turn­ing freighters built for car­ry­ing coal or sand into mo­bile power sta­tions is prov­ing to be an an­ti­dote to woes brought onto en­ergy sup­ply projects by the coro­n­avirus.

Float­ing elec­tric­ity plants known as pow­er­ships come into their own when con­flicts or other crises make the con­struc­tion of land­based power sta­tions dif­fi­cult.

The novel coro­n­avirus pan­demic is such a cri­sis, hav­ing forced many com­pa­nies to shut down and bring­ing con­struc­tion to a halt. En­ter Kar­pow­er­ship, which has been build­ing float­ing plants for al­most 15 years by con­vert­ing old freight ships, mak­ing it a lead­ing player in the in­dus­try with a fleet of 25 pow­er­ships.

The pan­demic has cre­ated a wind­fall for the Turk­ish com­pany by play­ing to the ad­van­tages of its float­ing power plants, es­pe­cially the un­beat­able de­liv­ery times: 60 days max­i­mum any­where in the world.

Lock­down mea­sures taken by sev­eral coun­tries for months have ob­structed progress of con­ven­tional power plant projects, whose con­struc­tion al­ready takes sev­eral years even in nor­mal times. “Credit com­mit­tees were not ap­prov­ing cred­its, sup­pli­ers weren’t able to meet their time­lines, (and) work­ers weren’t able to do con­struc­tions on site,”

Zeynep Harezi, Kar­pow­er­ship’s chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer, told AFP.

“So the de­mand for our pow­er­ships nat­u­rally in­creased. We are now speak­ing to more than a dozen coun­tries who re­quested pow­er­ships as soon as pos­si­ble,” she added. Pow­er­ships have ex­isted since the 1930s. The prin­ci­ple is sim­ple: A mer­chant

to ves­sel is con­verted into a float­ing power plant, typ­i­cally fu­eled by diesel or liq­uid gas used to gen­er­ate elec­tric­ity.

It then trav­els to its des­ti­na­tion where it con­nects to the lo­cal grid, sup­ply­ing a steady stream of power.

Kar­pow­er­ship has de­ployed 19 such plants in 11 coun­tries in Africa, the Mid­dle East and Asia as well as Cuba.

The float­ing plants pro­vide more than half of the elec­tric­ity con­sumed by sev­eral West African coun­tries, in­clud­ing Guinea-Bis­sau, The Gam­bia and Sierra Leone.

They are par­tic­u­larly suit­able for coun­tries whose ca­pac­ity is in­suf­fi­cient to meet grow­ing de­mand, or where in­fra­struc­ture has been de­stroyed by con­flict.

Ac­cord­ing to Turk­ish me­dia, Kar­pow­er­ship is in talks about send­ing sev­eral pow­er­ships to war-torn Libya.

Kar­pow­er­ship said it was ready to de­ploy pow­er­ships “from this sum­mer on­wards” to sup­ply 1,000 megawatts (MW) or “eight hours of ad­di­tional elec­tric­ity” per day to a coun­try fac­ing mas­sive black­outs. To meet de­liv­ery dead­lines quickly, the com­pany in­vests mas­sively to build ships be­fore they have been or­dered, a cal­cu­lated risk.

“There, you see a bil­lion dol­lars sit­ting on the dock,” Harezi said, point­ing to six pow­er­ships of dif­fer­ent sizes moored in a ship­yard in north­west­ern Turkey, pend­ing the sign­ing of deals.

“At the ship­yard, it takes around 18 months to build a ship, but since we are do­ing our con­struc­tion back to back, we can pro­duce our ships in six months,” ex­plained Deniz Yal­cindag, a Kar­pow­er­ship en­gi­neer.

SPEEDREAD •

Pho­tos/AFP

The Orca Sul­tan and Raif Bey pow­er­ships docked in a ship­yard in Yalova. The COVID-19 cri­sis has birthed new op­por­tu­ni­ties for Turk­ish pow­er­ships. Be­low: Zeynep Harezi, Kar­pow­er­ship’s chief com­mer­cial of­fi­cer, poses dur­ing an in­ter­view.

Float­ing elec­tric­ity plants come into their own when the con­struc­tion of land-based sta­tions is dif­fi­cult. Kar­pow­er­ship has been build­ing float­ing plants for al­most 15 years by con­vert­ing old freight ships, mak­ing it a lead­ing player in the in­dus­try with a fleet of 25 pow­er­ships. The pan­demic has cre­ated a wind­fall for the Turk­ish com­pany by play­ing to the ad­van­tages of its float­ing power plants, es­pe­cially the un­beat­able de­liv­ery times. The float­ing plants pro­vide more than half of the elec­tric­ity con­sumed by sev­eral West African coun­tries, in­clud­ing Guinea-Bis­sau, The Gam­bia and Sierra Leone.

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