Why South Africa is using powerships to combat energy shortage

Gordon_R

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It's almost as if they admit there is no chance that Eskom will fix its persistent coal-fired power station breakdowns in the next 20 years, so we may as well prepare for a future where others provide base-load power...
 

envo

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I stopped reading at "20 year contract" WHAT?!?!!??!?

This is a long-term solution??? In 20 years you can build and supply enough solar/wind to power the entire ****ing country at a low stable cost to everyone!

The only benefit I see here is that the power ships are NOT maintained or built by the government/Eskom, so at least there will be stability in it's power generation since it's a commercial operation that actually knows that keeping your **** maintained means you keep running means you make a profit on the same tariff, rather than begging every year for the tariff to go up because you "mismanaged" your finances and don't have any money left FOR maintenance or expansion as the power needs of the country grows.

But holy **** guys, 20 year contract? This whole "instant gratification" thing the ANC is chasing hasn't paid off well in the past, and I doubt it will pay off in the future too.

If they mandated the powership company work with local suppliers to incorporate, over the lifetime of the contract, solar and wind energy as a way to grow that space and be less reliant on the powerships (or current power plants) over time, then I won't mind paying R1.20c instead of R1 per kWh, because eventually over that 20 years you move closer to sustainable energy.

Shortsighted at best. Like I said, the only silver lining is that this company is a commercial company that knows how to run a business and make profit, so at least the power generation should be stable..... but 20 years?! If Eskom couldn't supply 2 power stations in that time, then you're focusing on the wrong problem.

You should have been on Eskom's ass to get that **** done in the original estimate and keep an eye on cost on a monthly basis, and the performance bonusses/13th cheque they get directly tied to KPI's on that! Didn't hit your KPI? NO ****ING BONUS

Gezas!
 

Easter Bunny

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South Africa is blessed with a lot of sunshine and wind which make these renewable energy options an obvious choice.
nobody can sell you wind and sun. if you can't buy it, you can't get your uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, cousins and friends in on the mountains of money allocated to this.
 

konfab

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Before everyone screams conspiracy and money down the drain there is method behind the power ships. Solar and storage are just not a realistically viable alternative. Hang on to those pitchforks for a second, let me explain the reasoning.

  1. The approximately R20 billion a year includes all costs to Eskom. This translates to +-12,100,000,000 kWh @ R1.65/kWh that Eskom can sell to municipalities/direct customers. So the costs are passed on to the customers who actually use the power.
  2. Solar at best will provide 20% capacity factor, i.e. 20% of the nominal installed capacity over a whole day because it's sunshine dependent.
    1. So a 1220 MW power ship can output 1220 MW * 24 hours = 29 280 MWh/day
    2. A similar 1220 MW solar plant can only do 1220 MW * 24 * 20% (at best) = 5 856 MWh/day
  3. To generate the same amount of energy you would need a solar farm 5x as large, however this power would only be available during the day....because of the sun...
  4. To make it available at night you would have to install storage. Currently the price is approx. $500/kWh for a commissioned commercial battery system. Let's say Eskom would get a super sweet deal for $400/kWh. To make that extra 29 280 - 5 856 MWh = 23 424 MWh (23,424,000 kWh) available during the night would cost 23 424 000 kWh * $400/kWh = $9 369 600 000...approx. R136 000 000 000.
  5. But the solar system still needs to be purchased so let's say it costs R10 000/kWp...meaning 1220 MW * 5 (see nr. 3) = 6 100 MW = 6 100 000 kW --> 6 100 000 kWp * R10 000/kWp = R61 000 000 000
  6. So on paper the upfront costs for Eskom would be R136 000 000 000 + 61 000 000 000 = R197 000 000 000....you would say well that's like R3bn cheaper than the power ship deal...but...
  7. You're forgetting about maintenance costs over the lifetime of the systm
    1. The batteries would inevitably have to be replaced at some point during the next 20 years and with a system so large there would inevitably be component failure over the 20 year lifetime. You would require at least 160 million solar panels to put things into perspective...
So it it cheaper? Probably not.
Does Eskom have R200bn today to spend on installing solar + storage? No they don't.
Does it make sense to buy power from power ships and outsource all maintenance and procurement activities for fuel and just pay a per kilowatt hour charge to reduce the strain on the gird? Yes it does.

There is method behind the supposed madness...

Edit: The power ships will only add approximately 3% to the grid's capacity so the risk of a price doubling etc. is not realistic.
How about we look for a solution that doesn't involve the people who put the country in the mess to begin with?
 

Happy Days

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As someone else pointed out in response to the same article on Daily Maverick, the RMIPPPP was crafted to favor the powerships. Since the nuclear build went tits-up, there's been a concerted push for the powerships. Transnet still have to approved use of their ports and thus far have not had any request for access.
 

Swa

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These power ships can provide base load power. Solar, wind and battery alternatives cannot.

Still, a pity that Eksdom has mismanaged themselves, and the country, into such a hopeless corner
These ships do not address base load as that's not where our problems are. If they're eventually needed for base load we're in even deeper troubles that they won't solve and only contribute to at this cost.

Before everyone screams conspiracy and money down the drain there is method behind the power ships. Solar and storage are just not a realistically viable alternative. Hang on to those pitchforks for a second, let me explain the reasoning.

  1. The approximately R20 billion a year includes all costs to Eskom. This translates to +-12,100,000,000 kWh @ R1.65/kWh that Eskom can sell to municipalities/direct customers. So the costs are passed on to the customers who actually use the power.
  2. Solar at best will provide 20% capacity factor, i.e. 20% of the nominal installed capacity over a whole day because it's sunshine dependent.
    1. So a 1220 MW power ship can output 1220 MW * 24 hours = 29 280 MWh/day
    2. A similar 1220 MW solar plant can only do 1220 MW * 24 * 20% (at best) = 5 856 MWh/day
  3. To generate the same amount of energy you would need a solar farm 5x as large, however this power would only be available during the day....because of the sun...
  4. To make it available at night you would have to install storage. Currently the price is approx. $500/kWh for a commissioned commercial battery system. Let's say Eskom would get a super sweet deal for $400/kWh. To make that extra 29 280 - 5 856 MWh = 23 424 MWh (23,424,000 kWh) available during the night would cost 23 424 000 kWh * $400/kWh = $9 369 600 000...approx. R136 000 000 000.
  5. But the solar system still needs to be purchased so let's say it costs R10 000/kWp...meaning 1220 MW * 5 (see nr. 3) = 6 100 MW = 6 100 000 kW --> 6 100 000 kWp * R10 000/kWp = R61 000 000 000
  6. So on paper the upfront costs for Eskom would be R136 000 000 000 + 61 000 000 000 = R197 000 000 000....you would say well that's like R3bn cheaper than the power ship deal...but...
  7. You're forgetting about maintenance costs over the lifetime of the systm
    1. The batteries would inevitably have to be replaced at some point during the next 20 years and with a system so large there would inevitably be component failure over the 20 year lifetime. You would require at least 160 million solar panels to put things into perspective...
So it it cheaper? Probably not.
Does Eskom have R200bn today to spend on installing solar + storage? No they don't.
Does it make sense to buy power from power ships and outsource all maintenance and procurement activities for fuel and just pay a per kilowatt hour charge to reduce the strain on the gird? Yes it does.

There is method behind the supposed madness...

Edit: The power ships will only add approximately 3% to the grid's capacity so the risk of a price doubling etc. is not realistic.
You're making a number of mistakes or false assumptions.

1. These are not all costs but only generation and maintenance. There's still the fuel component which is variable and going up. The R1.65/kWh isn't what Eskom charges for electricity but about twice as much. It's multiple times what Eskom pays for electricity. This extra cost will be passed onto consumers with the next tariff increase.
2. You're making the classic straw man mistake of seeing solar as the only other option.
3. A wind farm can provide power during night as well. In some areas it can actually provide electricity for most of the time.
4. With Eskom's generation problems we need storage regardless. This is never mentioned by renewable opponents. Storage would do a lot to alleviate our problems and if we have it we might as well make proper use of it.
5-7. Renewables with storage would have come out cheaper and not merely by a small margin. The cost is also decreasing year on year. It's also not the case that it just disappears after its lifespan, it just gets a bit less efficient.

Eskom will be paying multiple times what they currently are and for only a 3% increase in capacity. That is madness.
 

mypetcow

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These ships do not address base load as that's not where our problems are. If they're eventually needed for base load we're in even deeper troubles that they won't solve and only contribute to at this cost.


You're making a number of mistakes or false assumptions.

1. These are not all costs but only generation and maintenance. There's still the fuel component which is variable and going up. The R1.65/kWh isn't what Eskom charges for electricity but about twice as much. It's multiple times what Eskom pays for electricity. This extra cost will be passed onto consumers with the next tariff increase.
2. You're making the classic straw man mistake of seeing solar as the only other option.
3. A wind farm can provide power during night as well. In some areas it can actually provide electricity for most of the time.
4. With Eskom's generation problems we need storage regardless. This is never mentioned by renewable opponents. Storage would do a lot to alleviate our problems and if we have it we might as well make proper use of it.
5-7. Renewables with storage would have come out cheaper and not merely by a small margin. The cost is also decreasing year on year. It's also not the case that it just disappears after its lifespan, it just gets a bit less efficient.

Eskom will be paying multiple times what they currently are and for only a 3% increase in capacity. That is madness.
Keep in mind that neither solar nor wind power can be dispatched. You only get what you get. If it’s sunny you get solar power. If it’s less sunny then less. If it’s night you get nothing. The situation is similar with wind.

The nice thing with the power ships is that their output can be dispatched and entire generation blocks of coal power stations in Mpumalanga can be taken offline for maintenance without impacting the grid stability while the ships take over. So win-win all round.

In theory you could do it with an enormous up front investment in battery tech and solar/wind however Eskom cannot afford it nor can it get a loan for it as it owes a little bit of money to existing lenders.

I guess that’s why Eskom chose the pay as you go route with the power ships. No initial multi-billion Rand investment necessary.
 

Swa

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Keep in mind that neither solar nor wind power can be dispatched. You only get what you get. If it’s sunny you get solar power. If it’s less sunny then less. If it’s night you get nothing. The situation is similar with wind.

The nice thing with the power ships is that their output can be dispatched and entire generation blocks of coal power stations in Mpumalanga can be taken offline for maintenance without impacting the grid stability while the ships take over. So win-win all round.

In theory you could do it with an enormous up front investment in battery tech and solar/wind however Eskom cannot afford it nor can it get a loan for it as it owes a little bit of money to existing lenders.

I guess that’s why Eskom chose the pay as you go route with the power ships. No initial multi-billion Rand investment necessary.
You're still stuck on solar thinking. Some areas have near constant wind so it's not the same situation. And even with storage renewables would cost much less than the power ships. It makes no sense to sign a 20 year commitment for an expensive energy source with all costs not even included.
 

mypetcow

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You're still stuck on solar thinking.
See below.

Keep in mind that neither solar nor wind power can be dispatched. You only get what you get. If it’s sunny you get solar power. If it’s less sunny then less. If it’s night you get nothing. The situation is similar with wind.
Read the last sentence carefully. You may have overlooked something ;)

Also keep the following in mind:
On land, capacity factors range from 0.26 to 0.52. [1]
That’s quite the spread in power output (26%-52% of the installed capacity). So much for ‘near constant’ wind. Just because you perceive ‘near constant’ wind doesn’t just make the wind farms output at full installed capacity.

The point about the ability to dispatch wind also still stands. You cannot order a specific power output from a specific wind farm at a specific time for a specified duration.

However I agree with you. Wind and solar both super cheap technologies to add to the power mix. They both however cannot be dispatched and therefore cannot be used for specific use cases, e.g. when you need a specific power output at a specific time for a specified duration.

Just because you may disagree with Eskom’s approach doesn’t mean that they are wrong in procuring power from the power ships. ;)

[1] http://css.umich.edu/factsheets/wind-energy-factsheet
 

Spizz

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Keep in mind that neither solar nor wind power can be dispatched. You only get what you get. If it’s sunny you get solar power. If it’s less sunny then less. If it’s night you get nothing. The situation is similar with wind.

The nice thing with the power ships is that their output can be dispatched and entire generation blocks of coal power stations in Mpumalanga can be taken offline for maintenance without impacting the grid stability while the ships take over. So win-win all round.

In theory you could do it with an enormous up front investment in battery tech and solar/wind however Eskom cannot afford it nor can it get a loan for it as it owes a little bit of money to existing lenders.

I guess that’s why Eskom chose the pay as you go route with the power ships. No initial multi-billion Rand investment necessary.

Eskom never chose them, the government did. The RMIPPPP is a government scheme. Eskom’s own programme that they are running in parallel released 7 x battery storage programmes for tender over the weekend.

I’m not defending the ships but everyone seems to not understand that they are an IPP just like the other 5 projects chosen in this program and that means a 20 year agreement.

Gotta laugh though. We are shouting for IPPs for years, they come and now everyone loses their schit.
 

Swa

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See below.


Read the last sentence carefully. You may have overlooked something ;)

Also keep the following in mind:

That’s quite the spread in power output (26%-52% of the installed capacity). So much for ‘near constant’ wind. Just because you perceive ‘near constant’ wind doesn’t just make the wind farms output at full installed capacity.

The point about the ability to dispatch wind also still stands. You cannot order a specific power output from a specific wind farm at a specific time for a specified duration.

However I agree with you. Wind and solar both super cheap technologies to add to the power mix. They both however cannot be dispatched and therefore cannot be used for specific use cases, e.g. when you need a specific power output at a specific time for a specified duration.

Just because you may disagree with Eskom’s approach doesn’t mean that they are wrong in procuring power from the power ships. ;)

[1] http://css.umich.edu/factsheets/wind-energy-factsheet
You're the one overlooking plenty of things here. You can't look at a single variance and claim this will be the power produced. It averages out with more capacity. With storage you get an even more even production. You need storage in any case so that's not a valid criticism against renewables. Eskom needs even more storage.

The reason I'm saying you're too stuck on solar here is because we have the perfect conditions for wind energy. Wind isn't even in the same boat as solar. It's available day and night and in some areas near constant.

Eskom's own generation has not been dispatchable over the years. Even their new plants one day you have a generator working and one day you don't.

The approach (actually not Eskom's) with the power ships is one of the most expensive for what is supposed to be a temporary solution.
 

Swa

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Eskom never chose them, the government did. The RMIPPPP is a government scheme. Eskom’s own programme that they are running in parallel released 7 x battery storage programmes for tender over the weekend.

I’m not defending the ships but everyone seems to not understand that they are an IPP just like the other 5 projects chosen in this program and that means a 20 year agreement.

Gotta laugh though. We are shouting for IPPs for years, they come and now everyone loses their schit.
There are better IPP alternatives. Which makes one wonder how the worst one managed to dominate the program just like with the nuclear saga.
 

Spizz

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There are better IPP alternatives. Which makes one wonder how the worst one managed to dominate the program just like with the nuclear saga.

I don’t know what you mean by there are better IPP alternatives but whether there are or not doesn’t really matter as they can only deal with what was on the table. And of the 28 tenders the programme received most were thermal and some involved renewables and storage. Of the 8 projects chosen, 4 have a battery storage portion. 3 others still being investigated and believed to be included soon to make up the 2000MW needed, are also thermal bricks and mortar plants who will have a 20 year O&M agreement. Just like the ships.

The drama over the ships is just a lot of people not really understanding that an IPP is an agreement with a company to provide power at a fixed price over a number of years.
 

Spizz

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There are better IPP alternatives. Which makes one wonder how the worst one managed to dominate the program just like with the nuclear saga.

I should have also added that it was pretty obvious early on in the program that the ships would be among the winning bidders. I think we can draw our own conclusions as to why that is
 

Swa

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I don’t know what you mean by there are better IPP alternatives but whether there are or not doesn’t really matter as they can only deal with what was on the table. And of the 28 tenders the programme received most were thermal and some involved renewables and storage. Of the 8 projects chosen, 4 have a battery storage portion. 3 others still being investigated and believed to be included soon to make up the 2000MW needed, are also thermal bricks and mortar plants who will have a 20 year O&M agreement. Just like the ships.

The drama over the ships is just a lot of people not really understanding that an IPP is an agreement with a company to provide power at a fixed price over a number of years.
No, it's an expensive solution, one of the most expensive. That raises red flags. It's the cost for something that will be redundant causing the drama. Also the government committed to including renewables so why do fossils get the majority?

I should have also added that it was pretty obvious early on in the program that the ships would be among the winning bidders. I think we can draw our own conclusions as to why that is
It's not obvious at the price.
 

mypetcow

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Eskom's own generation has not been dispatchable over the years. Even their new plants one day you have a generator working and one day you don't.
A generator outage here and there does not change the fact that renewables incl. wind power are not dispatchable whereas coal power plants, nuclear power, pumped hydro and gas turbines incl. power ships are.

If Eskom really didn’t have dispatchable plants you would probably not have power when you wanted it.

Have a look here for some insight:
 

Ryansr

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It seems like such better idea now to not have had any government bailouts or assistance offered to Eskom, after all these years and money wasted without Eskom being able to pull themselves out of the dilemma that started the loadshedding in the first place. What a huge drain on the SA socio-economic indicators it has been and continues to be.
 

Swa

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A generator outage here and there does not change the fact that renewables incl. wind power are not dispatchable whereas coal power plants, nuclear power, pumped hydro and gas turbines incl. power ships are.

If Eskom really didn’t have dispatchable plants you would probably not have power when you wanted it.

Have a look here for some insight:
You miss the point. Eskom's power is unreliable. It can't be used when needed. Renewables are a much better option. And nuclear isn't something I'd put in the category of dispatchable. You can't shut it down or turn it on at will or even readily make major adjustments in output. Renewables with storage is actually a lot more dispatchable.
 
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