Eskom launches big battery storage project

Eskom has launched the first part of its Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) at Hex substation in Worcester in the Western Cape.

The Hex substation system is designed to store 100MWh of energy, which it said is enough to supply a small town like Mossel Bay for five hours (20MW x 5hr).

The entire BESS project is about 343MW, which Eskom said is equivalent to a daily capacity of 1,440MWh.

It also includes a 60MW photovoltaic solar installation.

“During the construction of the Hex BESS site, 250 residents of the greater Worcester area were employed,” Eskom stated.

“The overall project is co-financed by the African Development Bank, the New Development Bank, the World Bank, and the Clean Technology Fund and constructed by Hyosung Heavy Industries as well as local subcontractors.”

Eskom first announced its BESS project in July last year and said it would be installed at various sites in the provinces of KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Northern Cape.

It broke ground with partner Hyosung Heavy Industries at the site within the Msunduzi and Impendile municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal in December 2022.

The power utility had initially anticipated that Phase 1 of that project would be completed by 30 June 2023 and planned to commission Phase 2 by December 2024.

However, both phases were delayed.

Eskom’s facility in Elandskop is part of the BESS project’s first phase and will add about 8MW of additional capacity, including around 2MW of solar generation capacity.

The power utility said the extra capacity is equivalent to 32MWh of distributed electricity and is sufficient to provide a town like Howick with power for up to four hours.

In addition, it will boost the electricity network and assist Eskom with meeting peak demand in the evenings.

When completed, the entire Phase 1 will have a capacity of 199MW, with 833MWh worth of storage at eight Eskom Distribution substation sites.

Eskom will significantly ramp up the solar generation capacity during the second phase to 58MW.

Netwerk24 reports that the World Bank is prepared to finance more systems like the Hex substation BESS system.

It quoted the World Bank operations manager for Southern Africa, Asmeen Khan, as saying that similar concessionary financing could help South Africa secure funding from the private sector.

Khan reportedly said the World Bank helped finance the first phase of 200MW at premises nationwide, and a second phase of a 144MW facility that will be constructed at the former Komati coal power station in Mpumalanga.

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Eskom launches big battery storage project