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    Amid load shedding crisis, construction of Eskom's first battery facility starts

    December 8, 2022 - Compiled by Lameez Omarjee


      -- Construction of Eskom's first battery facility, which can help address the electricity crisis, has started. -- The battery facility could power the KwaZulu-Natal town of Howick for four hours. -- The facility is part of an overall battery energy storage system project costing about R11 billion. -- For more financial news, go to theNews24 Business front page. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Construction of Eskom's first battery facility has started, and it's one of the means the power utility can use to address the long-running electricity crisis, according to CEO André de Ruyter.

      The facility is part of Eskom's Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) project - costing about R11 billion, and is funded through concessional loans from the World Bank, African Development Bank and the New Development Bank.

      The battery facility will be built in KwaZulu-Natal at Eskom's Elandskop site, located within the Munuduzi and Impendle municipalities. "Construction will take between seven and 12 months and the batteries on the site will be charged from the main grid via Eskom's Elandskop substation," a statement from the power utility indicated.

      The facility has a capacity of 8MW, which could power the KwaZulu-Natal town of Howick for four hours. It is needed to boost the electricity network during peak hours - or when demand is high - which reduces the strain on the grid.

      As it is, South Africa is facing Stage 6 load shedding due to multiple plant breakdowns. Eskom has delayed the planned outage of Koeberg nuclear power station's Unit 1 to stave off Stage 7 load shedding.

      "The beginning of the construction of the Elandskop BESS is a positive development in our efforts to alleviate the pressure on the national electricity grid," De Ruyter said at a sod-turning ceremony at the Elandskop site on Wednesday.

      "This is a direct response to the urgent need to address South Africa's long-running electricity crisis by adding more generation capacity to the grid, and also to strengthen the grid by adding more storage and transforming capacity," he added.



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      Overall the BESS project makes use of large-scale batteries with a capacity of 1 440MWh per day and a 60MW of solar PV capacity. "It will be one of the largest BESS projects to be developed and implemented in South Africa," Eskom's statement read.

      The BESS project is split into two phases. The first includes the installation of 833MWh of storage capacity at eight of Eskom's distribution substation sites across the country. Phase 1 also includes 2MW of solar PV capacity, Eskom said. Phase 1 will be commissioned by 30 June 2023.

      Phase 2 of the project includes the installation of 616MWh at four Eskom distribution sites and one transmission site. The solar PV capacity for Phase 2 will be 58MW, Eskom said. Phase 2 will be commissioned by December 2024.

      The battery storage will help support the expansion of renewables, explained Velaphi Ntuli, Eskom's general manager for distribution, and operations enablement.


      SA's first battery storage project gains ground as Eskom appoints suppliers

      Earlier this year, Eskom awarded contracts to two service providers for the BESS. The service providers are South Korean company Hyosung Heavy Industries and Chinese company Pinggao Group. They will oversee the design, supply, installation, operations and maintenance of the project over five years, News24 reported previously.

      As part of further efforts to address energy security, Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe on Thursday signed legal agreements for 13 solar PV projects under Bid Window 5 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP). They will add 975MW of capacity to the grid. Once they reach financial close, construction will begin, and they are expected to be online by 2025.

      Mantashe also announced five preferred bidders for Round 6 of the REIPPPP. The five projects are all solar PV and will add capacity of 860MW. A sixth potential bidder has been identified. The department is still in discussions with this potential bidder on conditions for appointment - which would ultimately add 1 000 MW to the grid.

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