South Africa’s Eskom confirms contract awards for 1,440MWh battery storage

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South Africa’s primary electricity supplier Eskom has announced details of forthcoming major battery storage deployments, including project sites and sizes.

The utility and electricity grid operator said on Friday (31 July) that it intends to have the first 343MW of a 500MW national energy storage rollout announced by South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa online by December 2024.

Eskom selected two battery energy storage system (BESS) providers, South Korea’s Hyosung Heavy Industries and Chinese company Pinggao Group, from bidders in a competitive solicitation process.  

The 343MW of BESS will be four-hour duration, meaning a total of 1,440MWh capacity. The systems will be built in two phases. Phase 1 will see 199MW/833MWh of battery storage built, alongside 2MW of solar PV, while Phase 2 will see 144MW/616MWh of BESS installed together with 58MW of solar PV.

As reported by Energy-Storage.news in March when Eskom said it was in the process of finalising Phase 1 contract discussions, the battery storage systems will help manage peak load on the electricity network, as well as providing other applications like ancillary services.

In April, Hyosung revealed that it had received an Eskom letter of acceptance for a separate 48MW/192MWh project near the city of Durban.

The rollout is being financially supported by groups including the World Bank and the African Development Bank, the latter providing US$58 million support.

Projects will be sited at remote areas with limited access to the electricity distribution network, but which are nonetheless not far from renewable energy plants operated by independent power producers (IPPs).

Eskom described the buildout as a flagship proof-of-concept programme for the role of batteries on the South African grid in enabling the integration of large-scale solar PV and wind into the energy mix, while increasing network stability, reliability and security of supply.

The utility will also build a research and development and testing centre for battery storage systems in Rosherville, Gauteng province.

Phase 1 will see BESS deployed at eight sites, with systems ranging from 1.54MW/6.16MWh for the smallest and 80MW/320MWh at the largest, to be commissioned by the end of June 2023.

Phase 2 comprises installations at four sites, ranging from 17MW/68MWh to 70MW/280MWh, for completion by December 2024.

It is well-documented that keeping lights on in the country has been a challenge for Eskom and South African authorities. One big step already taken by Eskom was the launch of so-called Risk Mitigation Power Procurement Programme tenders, through which it has contracted for energy from dispatchable resources, including natural gas and a significant volume of solar-plus-storage projects.

Of the total 2GW awarded through that tender process, around 430MW/1,300MWh of energy storage paired with renewables was included. Its biggest winner, Norwegian renewable energy developer Scatec, recently began work on an awarded 540MW of solar PV and 225MW/1,140MWh of battery storage, Energy-Storage.news reported a couple of weeks ago.

Eskom group chief executive André de Ruyter described energy storage as one of the “key initiatives to assist in addressing the country’s electricity challenges in the long-term,” and fitting the aims of South Africa’s long-term Integrated Resource Plan.

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