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South Africa Could Ease Blackouts By Burning Heavy Fuel Oil

South Africa’s chronic 10-hours-per-day blackouts could finally have a solution that won’t sit well with energy transitioners—burning heavy fuel oil.

South Africa’s Electricity Minister, Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, has announced that the country will start an emergency procurement program. The program will negotiate power purchase agreements, and will last for five years. Some of the power will come from natural gas from Turkey’s Karpowership through an existing agreement. At least 1,200 MW of the 2,000 MW needed will be sourced that way.

The remaining power could come from a more controversial source: heavy fuel oil from Karpowership’s other plants, an anonymous source told Bloomberg.

Talks are expected to begin this week.

Heavy fuel oil is bound to raise a few eyebrows, especially since several environmental organizations have worked tirelessly to shut down Karpowership’s

In order to prevent blackouts, power must be kept in near-perfect balance to keep the system synchronized.

At last count, Karpowership has about 30 of these powerships—or power barges—at the ready. Heading into last winter, Germany used power barges to help it stave off blackouts. Ukraine was also in talks with Karpowership to utilize ship-based emergency power last November, followed by Cuba in December. Trinidad and Tobago were also in conversations with Turkey about these floating power vessels, which have the flexibility of switching between fuels.

Last week, South Africa was reportedly considering extending the operational lives of two of its largest coal-fueled power plants to boost its energy security, Bloomberg sources said at the time. The two plants, Kendal and Oethabo, are currently set to be decommissioned after 2035.

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By Julianne Geiger for Oilprice.com

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