Orania kissing load-shedding goodbye with massive battery

Orania in the Northern Cape recently took delivery of a large battery energy storage system (BESS) that will help the town avoid the first six stages of load-shedding.

Orania’s electricity distributor, Orasol, told MyBroadband that the 4.8MWh BESS offers 4.3MWh of useable capacity with a maximum output of 2.75MW.

The BESS consists of multiple lithium-ion battery cells with a control system that can manage battery levels at the cell level. It also features liquid cooling for optimal thermal management.

Orasol said the battery’s primary purpose will be to provide the town with an uninterrupted electricity supply during power outages, going up to stage 6 load-shedding.

The town currently has a demand of around 1.2MW, with a peak demand of 1.9MW.

That means the BESS would be able to supply power to the entire town for around two hours in peak periods and three to four hours at other times when fully charged.

That excludes the contribution of Orasol’s 1.25MWp solar power farm, which first entered operation in late 2022 and is already capable of supplying 30% of Orania’s electricity demand.

Together, the solar farm and battery will be capable of providing Eskom-free power to the town from 06:00 to 22:00.

The battery system will require several more components before being ready for operation.

Orasol hopes these will be delivered within the next month, after which the battery will be switched on “as soon as possible”.

While it did not disclose the battery’s cost with MyBroadband, Orasol said independent academics had calculated the town’s annual economic losses due to load-shedding was more than double the price paid for the battery every year.

A key principle behind the system is that the entire community should benefit from the project. The price they will pay for its electricity will be determined by the number of people opting to use it.

“It is important that no residents are excluded from the project, as the wellbeing of the entire community is important to us.”

“Orania not only dreams of providing reliable electricity to our residents but to bring down electricity tariffs. We reckon we will accomplish this.”

Part of Orasol’s solar farm in Orania, as seen from the air

Orasol said the expansion of its self-generated power system will depend on population growth, which is currently in the range of 10–16% per year, and Eskom’s ability to meet demand.

In addition to running its own solar farm, Orania provides an incentive for private self-generation, in line with the town’s broader ethos of self-reliance.

Orasol offers residents and businesses R1.92 in billing credits for every kWh of electricity they feed back into the grid, the best rate of any municipality in South Africa.

Like other municipalities, this requires a bidirectional smart meter, which costs around R10,000 or more.

However, Orasol said most properties in Orania were already equipped with these meters.

Businesses in Orania with solar panels on their roofs

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Orania kissing load-shedding goodbye with massive battery