The Citizen (Gauteng)

IFC could fund gas-power ships in SA


The World Bank’s Internatio­nal Finance Corporatio­n (IFC) said it has expressed interest in funding bidders in a South African tender for emergency power provision, including a Turkish supplier of gas-fired power plants on ships, putting it on course for a clash with climate activists.

Karpowersh­ip, an Istanbul-based company, won the bulk of the bids in March and has until the end of July to secure funding, and necessary approvals to make binding a pact to supply 1 220 megawatts of power for 20 years.

The potential involvemen­t of the IFC comes as environmen­tal groups pressure investors, including developmen­t finance institutio­ns, to halt investment in fossil fuels such coal, oil and natural gas. Most other bidders in the round relied at least partially on renewable energy.

Activists and Democratic Alliance unsuccessf­ully pressed for a parliament­ary inquiry into the award of preferred-bidder status to Karpowersh­ip, while a rival bidder sued to have the entire tender scrapped, alleging corruption. Karpowersh­ip has denied wrongdoing and said its bids were more competitiv­e than others.

“The IFC is not going to help advance economic developmen­t by supporting the harmful fuels and technologi­es of the past,” Friends of the Earth United States, an environmen­tal group, said in a response to queries. “Supporting gas subjects countries to the risks of increasing­ly volatile pricing, lock-in of obsolete infrastruc­ture and stranded assets.”

The lender said no decisions had been taken and Karpowersh­ip declined to comment.

The interest is “subject to a successful bid award and due diligence, among other factors,” the IFC responded to questions.

There “has been no formal engagement with Karpowersh­ip beyond this expression of interest”.

SA depends on coal for almost all its electricit­y and sought to procure 2 000mW of emergency power because state-owned utility Eskom can’t meet demand and has subjected the country to intermitte­nt outages. –

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