Karpowership, one of the world’s largest powership companies, is building vessels the size of several football fields to meet rising demand for energy, especially from Africa.
The unit of Turkey’s Karadeniz Energy Group has about 20 ships under construction, according to Karpowership’s director for Africa, Emre Durmusoglu. The floating power plants can be deployed in a matter of months and supply electricity to both coastal and land-locked countries for several decades. That means there’s “huge potential” in Africa, already the company’s biggest market, Durmusoglu said.
“We can get electricity very fast to satisfy their needs, and demand in Africa is increasing a lot,” Durmusoglu said in an interview on the sidelines of the Africa Energy Forum in Lisbon.
Karpowership already has seven vessels with almost 1 000 MW of installed capacity in six African countries. As the size of Africa’s population grows, Karpowership is looking to expand to more countries in a continent where the rate of access to electricity is estimated at 43%, compared to the global average of 87%.
The United Nations forecasts sub-Saharan Africa’s population will nearly double over the next 30 years, adding about one-billion people to the world population, according to data released this week.
That means more business for energy suppliers like Karpowership, which provides power to Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Ghana, Mozambique, Sudan and Sierra Leone. The company also operates in Indonesia and Lebanon. Costs can be high: Sierra Leone signed a $31-million deal with the company to get only two years of additional electricity from a maritime vessel.
“Population growth should be parallel with energy demand,” Durmusoglu said. “If African countries do not take the required measures, unfortunately they will not have enough electricity to satisfy demand from the population.”
When potential customers learn of the variety of floating generation options on the market, vessels are often perceived as a temporary, stop-gap solution, according to a BloombergNEF report released on Feb. 13. Yet many of these ships can be operated similarly to land-based plants and provide power for over 30 years, according to the report.
“We can immediately deploy a power ship and stay there for 20 to 25 years,” Durmusoglu said. He said some of his powerships were switching to natural gas from heavy fuel oil to become “more efficient, more affordable and more environmentally friendly.”