'Powerships' May Replace South Korea's Offline Nuclear Reactors
Turkey's Karadeniz Energy Group rents out floating power plants, called powerships, to countries in the Middle East, North Africa and Asia.
Credit: Karadeniz Energy Group

Floating power plants offer a unique solution to South Korea's possible power shortages after the country shut down nuclear reactors containing uncertified parts.

The four "powerships" from Turkey can each produce about 150 megawatts of power for South Korea if the Korean government goes ahead with plans to rent them. That would make up for the expected power shortage this coming winter — a shortage resulting from the shutdown of two reactors at the Yeonggwang nuclear power plant which were discovered to have parts with forged certificates, according to The Chosun Ilbo.

That would not represent the first job for the powerships, which can turn either heavy fuel oil or natural gas into electricity. Turkey's Karadeniz Energy Group has built and deployed five of the ships since 2010 as part of its "Power of Friendship" project to help power-deprived regions of the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Three of the powerships have helped the city of Basra in Iraq maintain stable power generation for 4 million Iraqis despite the harsh weather, heat and sand storms. Two bigger ships have supplied 5 million people in Pakistan with their annual electricity needs.

Karadeniz plans to complete building five more powerships by the end of 2013 to boost its fleet power capacity over 2,000 megawatts — approximately enough to power 2 million U.S. homes.

The idea of having backup power afloat may sound appealing to residents of New York City, New Jersey and other parts of the Northeast in the wake of power outages related to Hurricane Sandy. But even powerships wouldn't have helped in the face of storm and flooding damage to the power grid that distributes electricity to homes and businesses.

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