The Ghana-bound vessel, the Karadeniz Powership (KPS) Aysegul Sultan, set sail from Istanbul, Turkey, last week, and will reach itsGhana, which became the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence more than five decades ago, is poised to notch up another milestone later this month, when it starts feeding electricity generated from a utility-sized floating power plant directly into its national grid.
This will be the first time that a utility-sized floating power plant, or powership, features in the energy mix of an African country. The only other countries that operate powerships are Iraq and Lebanon, as well as Indonesia, which, like Ghana, will start evacuating powership-generated electricity to its grid this month.
Powerships were pioneered by Karpowership, the energy arm of Turkey-based family-owned investment holding group Karadeniz Holding in 2008. The company remains the world’s sole designer, builder, owner and operator of powerships, generating 1 500 MW for its customers.
“The vessel will be docked in the Tema harbour and be linked to the national grid within a week of its arrival,” Ghana Grid Company CEO William Amuna told Engineering News Online as the 140-m-long vessel left the Tuzla Sedef shipyard, on the outskirts of Istanbul, where it had been under construction for less than a year.
The KPS Aysegul Sultan will boost Ghanaian power generation by 240 MW – about a tenth of the country’s installed generation capacity. It is the first of two powerships to be delivered to the West African country under a ten-year agreement signed in June 2014. When a second vessel is delivered in 2016, total generation from the powerships will be about 450 MW, more than 20% of the country’s electricity needs.
Ghana’s power sources were diversified, he added. Karpowership has built nine powerships since 2008, with the KPS Aysegul Sultan and a smaller 125 MW vessel that left for Indonesia on the day the former set sail for Ghana, being the latest to be added to the fleet.
Four more vessels – two of which are capable of generating 460 MW each and the remainder 125 MW each – are under construction, while an additional 15 “are in the pipeline”, according to Karpowership business development director Zeynep Harezi.
No customer has been identified for the vessels under constructions and those “in the pipeline”, but Harezi explains that this is in line with company’s business model. She said: “Karpowership’s business model is not project finance. We build the powerships without customers; when customers come, we can guarantee them the fastest delivery of utility-sized power at an affordable tariff.
“For another company, it would take up to five years to build equivalent ships and to find the project finance and suppliers, as well as to undertake the design, procurement and engineering processes, and so on. But for us, all this takes less than a year because we have a standard design and a planned pipeline.”
Some of the powerships under construction will also be delivered to Indonesia as part of a 540 MW tender recently awarded to Karpowership. Harezi averred that finding customers would not be difficult, given the massive demand for power across the world.
She said that according to Karpowership’s estimate, Africa alone would need an additional capacity of 300 000 MW to attain half the electricity consumption levels of Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development countries.
“If a country needs economical electricity only, then there are other solutions, such as hydro. However, if a country needs an economical solution that can also be deployed quickly, then powerships are that solution,” she said.
Other generation technologies that are more price competitive than powerships are large-scale hydroelectric plants, large coal-fired power plants and large combined-cycle gas plants, which use natural gas or liquid fuel and can be operational for at least 20 years.
“However, powerships are more competitive than open-cycle gas turbines (OCGTs),” she said. But she was quick to add that this depended on fuel prices and the fuel type used. In Africa, OCGTs generally operate on light crude oil, owing to the limited availability of gas. Karpowership is in the running for South Africa’s gas-to-power programme, having responded to a public request for information issued in July.
“We think the next step will be a request for proposals. That has not happened, and we do not know when it will happen,” she said. Harezi added that Karpowership had also pitched its powerships to other countries in Africa, but declined to disclose their identities, citing confidentiality clauses.
Besides the construction and renting of powerships, Karpowership also operates geothermal and conventional thermal power stations in Turkey. It is also involved in cross-border electricity trade. The subsidiary accounts for about 80% of Karadeniz Holding’s revenue. *Martin Zhuwakinyu visited Istanbul as a guest of Karpowership.(Source: Miningweekly)