It's time for government to generate electricity not confusion

The self-created energy crisis should not be used to justify an unaffordable 20-year Karpowership deal

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20/01/2023 13:04:22

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It’s time for government to generate electricity not confusion

For political zealots such as our Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, no crisis should go to waste. There is money to be made and positions to consolidate. 

South Africa’s energy crisis is to a great extent self-inflicted and we believe that it is being used to justify signing the unaffordable Karpowership deals.

On 19 January 2023, Minister Gwede Mantashe again punted for the controversial Turkish Karpowerships as the solution to our current crisis (see here). Although emergency power in a crisis seems very attractive, the dynamics of plugging Karpowership into our grid are much more complicated than simply flipping the switch.

The Karpowership environmental impact assessment (EIA) study has already failed once, when it was rejected by the Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, and civil society is taking the National Energy Regulator and the Karpowerships to court as we believe the generation licences should not have been issued.

Not only will it take months to start with generation even if a hypothetical deal were to be signed tomorrow, but the economy and consumer will have to foot a massive bill, either through future heightened tariffs or tax.

The expensive price tag of R220 billion attributed to the Karpowership deal was the estimate at the pre-Ukraine war prices of gas. The conflict has accelerated the global energy crisis, and the price of gas for the Karpowerships is expected to go up for the duration of the deal as it is dependent on the market and exchange rates. 

It is true that technology as utilised by Karpowership can alleviate an energy crisis and bring a country back on its feet, but this is a short-term solution only. Our government aims to sign a 20-year deal, to the detriment of the economy and electricity tariffs to come. This is like filling a bucket with a hole in it for the sake of keeping the bucket full, without plugging the hole.

Minister Mantashe’s suggestion to open the door for Karpowership is reckless, especially on a matter of energy shortage that he has helped create through his delayed decisions to bring in new generation capacity.

OUTA vehemently opposes any form of powerships docking in our ports. It is time for our leaders to stop generating division, confusion and political point-scoring and start generating electricity.

We call for Minister Mantashe to be replaced with a minister who has South Africa’s interests at heart.

More information

A soundclip with comment by OUTA Legal Project Manager Brendan Slade is here.

OUTA opposes any deal with Karpowership. On 26 April 2022, OUTA filed a review application in the high court, seeking to overturn the National Energy Regulator's decisions to grant the Karpowerships generation licences. To date, we have not received the full record behind NERSA’s decision to grant the three generation licences, however, we have consulted our legal team on this delay and will approach the court within the coming days in order to compel the production of this record.

See more about OUTA’s case against the Karpowerships here.

Those who wish to help fund OUTA’s legal battle against the Karpowerships can get details here.

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OUTA is standing up against government corruption and mismanagement. 

Our work is made possible though donations by our paying supporters.

Join us in working towards a better South Africa by becoming a paying OUTA supporter. 

In 2022, we’re in court challenging the AARTO law, the Karpowership generation licences and SANRAL’s secrecy over toll profits.
We’re also challenging electricity prices and defending South Africa’s water resources.

We want to see South Africa’s tax revenue used for the benefit of all, not a greedy few. 

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