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. –