Eskom CEO André de Ruyter said they are investing R14 billion in battery storage which will complement the company’s existing pump storage capacity.
These batteries form part of Eskom’s flagship 360MW battery energy storage system, which include 90 sites in the Western Cape, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape, and KwaZulu-Natal.
Eskom’s battery energy storage systems (BESS) project was first announced in October 2018.
The distributed battery storage infrastructure will be installed in containers at its sub-stations, including sub-stations located at renewable energy plants.
Eskom said in 2019 the battery storage system will assist in its plan to increase solar and wind power in its energy mix from 7.2% to 25.6% in 2030.
The battery system will also assist with peak shaving, frequency support, and ancillary services in the distribution network.
Speaking to ENCA, De Ruyter said they are procuring the battery storage under a project sponsored by the World Bank.
He said the reason they are investing in more storage capacity is because renewable energy is not always available.
“Renewable energy is only generated when the sun shines and when the wind blows. To cater for this lack of predictability, you need to have a bigger storage buffer,” De Ruyter said.
The battery storage forms part of Eskom’s transition to more renewable energy, which the Eskom CEO said would be a process.
“This is not a binary challenge that we face. It is not a question of switching off all coal fire power stations tomorrow and moving wholesale to renewables,” he said.
“This is a just energy transition process to ensure that we can manage the migration from being one of the biggest carbon emitters in the world on a per capita basis to a far cleaner and greener electricity supply industry.”
He said the process would take ten to fifteen years as Eskom gradually phases in more renewable energy and close down old coal power plants which have reached the end of their lives.