Eskom starts construction of battery energy storage facility

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 09 Dec 2022

Eskom has begun the construction of its much-anticipated energy storage facility under its Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) project.

The power utility, in partnership with South Korean firm Hyosung Heavy Industries. yesterday held a ceremony to mark the beginning of construction of the site in KwaZulu-Natal.

BESS solutions are an enabler to supply backup power to those who want to make greater use of renewable energy.

In a statement, Eskom says construction of the facility 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.

The facility will have a capacity of 8MW, equivalent to 32MWh of distributed electricity, enough to power a town such as Howick for four hours, says the power utility.

The project cost has been pegged at approximately R11 billion, and is being funded through concessional loans from the World Bank, African Development Bank and the New Development Bank.

According to Eskom, the procurement process for this project has been set out by funders and the utility is in compliance with it and internal governance.

The move comes as businesses buckle under the pressure of the ever-increasing frequency of load-shedding. Eskom load-shedding this week again reached stage six.

“This [the facility] 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,” says André de Ruyter, Eskom Group CEO.

“The beginning of the construction of the Elandskop [KwaZulu-Natal] BESS is a positive development in our efforts to alleviate the pressure on the national electricity grid.”

Eskom notes the Elandskop construction is part of phase one of the BESS project, which includes the installation of approximately 199MW additional capacity, with 833MWh storage of distributed battery storage plants at eight Eskom distribution substation sites throughout the country.

Phase two of the project includes the installation of a further 144MW of storage capacity, equivalent to 616MWh at four Eskom distribution sites and one transmission site. The solar PV capacity in this phase will be 58MW.

All phase one sites are planned to be commissioned by 30 June 2023 and phase two by December 2024.

Overall, Eskom says the BESS project will utilise large-scale utility batteries with the capacity of 1 440MWh per day and a 60MW PV capacity, and it will be one of the largest BESS projects to be developed and implemented in South Africa.

Velaphi Ntuli, Eskom general manager: distribution, operations enablement, comments: “Eskom has identified distributed storage as an alternative to support renewable energy expansion in South Africa and we have taken the necessary steps to ensure the successful implementation of the BESS project.”