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Eskom goes into battery storage mode to limit crippling power cuts

This is the first part of the 500MW BESS initiative announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa as part of the government’s measures to address South Africa’s long-running electricity crisis. EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

This is the first part of the 500MW BESS initiative announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa as part of the government’s measures to address South Africa’s long-running electricity crisis. EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

Published Jul 29, 2022

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South Africa’s embattled power utility, Eskom, has announced the awarding of contracts to two successful bidders – Hyosung Heavy Industries and Pinggao Group – for the provision of battery storage solutions in terms of its flagship Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) project.

The contract is for design, supply and installation as well as operating and maintenance for a five-year period for a storage system that will be used primarily for national peak shaving (managing demand) purposes for four hours a day for at least 250 days of the year.

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In a statement, Eskom said the battery storage system would also be used secondarily for ancillary services and local network support.

Approval for the BESS implementation has been obtained from the World Bank. The project is co-financed by the African Development Bank, New Development Bank, the World Bank and the Clean Technology Fund (CTF).

This is the first part of the 500MW BESS initiative announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa as part of the government’s measures to address South Africa’s long-running electricity crisis.

“The project is one of many ways Eskom can partner with various players in finding alternative, innovative and lasting solutions and is also consistent with Eskom’s Just Energy Transition (JET) strategy, and storage is one of the key initiatives to assist in addressing the country’s electricity challenges in the long-term,” said André de Ruyter, Eskom’s Group Chief Executive.

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

All Phase 1 sites, mainly in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape and Kwazulu-Natal, are planned to be commissioned by 30 June 2023 and Phase 2 developments in the Western and Northern Cape by December 2024.

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Eskom said Phase 1 includes the installation of approximately 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 photovoltaic (PV) capacity.Phase 2 includes 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.

"To maximise benefits, the distributed battery storage sites are strategically situated at remote areas with limited access to our distribution networks, but close to renewable independent power producers’ (IPPs) plants," Eskom 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 BESS with 60MW Solar PV represents a giant leap forward in achieving this aspiration, as it will be one of the largest BESS projects to be developed and implemented in South Africa,” said Velaphi Ntuli, Eskom’s General Manager of Coal & Clean Technology.

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