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Eskom CEO André de Ruyter. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Eskom CEO André de Ruyter. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

Eskom has awarded two contracts for battery storage for its flagship Battery Energy Storage System (Bess) project.

Batteries are needed to store and incorporate energy from renewable sources, especially in remote areas.

On Friday, Eskom said that after a “competitive and transparent” bidding process, Hyosung Heavy Industries and Pinggao Group won the bid for the provision of battery storage solutions.

The companies will supply, install, operate and maintain the batteries for a five-year period.

This is the first part of the 500MW Bess initiative announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa as part of the government’s measures to address the electricity crisis.

Eskom said the project would act as a proof of concept on the delivery of “the first battery energy storage project in SA”.

“The project supports transformational aspects by demonstrating large-scale deployment in support of SA’s renewable energy strategy and addresses local overall system challenges. It is envisioned that gains from the project will help alleviate pressure on the national grid.”

The project will be used primarily for national “peak shaving” or demand management, for four hours a day for at least 250 days of the year. It will also be used secondarily for ancillary services needed to support the transmission of electric power from generators to consumers and local network support.

“There are also several technical applications and benefits that will be quantifiable over time. Charging of the batteries will take place during off-peak periods or when network conditions permit.

“The project is designed to use large-scale utility batteries with the capacity of 1,440MW per day and a 60MW solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity to be implemented in two phases.”

Phase 1 involves the installation of about 199MW additional capacity. With four hours of storage, this equals 833MWh storage of distributed battery storage plants at eight Eskom distribution substation sites. This phase also includes about 2MW of solar PV capacity.

Phase 2 involves the installation of a total of 144MW, which is equivalent to 616MWh at four Eskom distribution sites and one transmission site. The solar PV capacity in this phase is 58MW.

Eskom said the distributed battery storage sites were strategically situated in remote areas with limited access to its distribution networks, but close to renewable independent power producers’ plants, to maximise benefits. 

All phase 1 sites are planned to be commissioned by June 30 2023 and phase 2 by December 2024.

Eskom GM of coal and clean technology Velaphi Ntuli said: “Through the Bess project, Eskom aspires to diversify the existing generation energy mix by pursuing a low carbon future to reduce the impact on the environment. The 1,440MWh distributed by Bess with 60MW solar PV represents a giant leap forward in achieving this, as it will be one of the largest Bess projects to be developed and implemented in SA.”

The World Bank has approved the implementation and the project is co-financed by the African Development Bank, New Development Bank, the World Bank and the Clean Technology Fund.

According to Friday’s statement, the electricity grid would continue to incorporate energy from renewable sources, and that that would require energy storage in large quantities.

“To this end, the organisation operates the largest testing facility for large-scale energy storage in the southern hemisphere at its research, testing and development facilities in Rosherville, Gauteng. Eskom continues to explore bulk energy storage solutions for grid strengthening as well as small-scale, behind the-meter storage solutions for customers to store their own generated power.”

Eskom group CEO André de Ruyter said: “The project is one of many ways Eskom can partner with players in finding alternative, innovative and lasting solutions and is also consistent with Eskom’s just energy transition strategy, and storage is one of the key initiatives to assist in addressing the country’s electricity challenges in the long-term.”

Eskom said the Bess project incorporates transformational aspects by demonstrating large-scale deployment of storage abilities in support of SA’s integrated resource plan.

It said a preliminary localisation and industrialisation study had been conducted and it would continue to engage stakeholders to ensure maximum benefits are derived from all the project sites.



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