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Energy storage in South Africa: A short-to-medium term solution

energy storage
Energy storage in South Africa: batteries are seen as a solution to the country’s electricity supply instability including hybrid systems using gas

Last week, an Eskom official confirmed the parastatal was expecting the arrival of a GE Durathon storage battery within the next week to add to its existing lithium-ion phosphate battery at the utility’s large-scale energy storage test and demonstration facility in Rosherville, Johannesburg.

Peter Langley, senior consultant of Power Delivery and Utilisation at Eskom, addressed a group of renewable energy delegates at a conference in Cape Town where exploring the next generation of energy storage was on the agenda.

Also speaking at the event was Owen Lock, application manager at S&C Electric in Australia, who commented that energy storage is the answer and the solution needs to be put as close to the problem as possible.

One of the biggest challenges outside of Southern Africa is the lack of infrastructure, which cannot facilitate the distribution of generated power.

Hybrid energy storage

With optimal utility-scale storage of renewable generated energy still being researched, the idea of combining gas and renewable generated energy storage came out of the discussion as a potential possibility at African Utility Week.

Solar expert Abraham Cambridge from DNV-GL commented that energy storage is immediate, one does not have to wait years for a plant to be built. Should the event of load-shedding occur, the stored energy is always there where as gas cuts off when the system shuts down.

Although the ideal of a co-generated energy storage system is grand in theory, “the elephant in the room is that we would still be burning fossil fuels”, Owen Lock commented.

Diesel-solar energy storage

In March, ESI Africa reported on the Finnish government initiative Energy and Environmental Partnership for Southern and East Africa, which awarded international clean energy development company Camco Clean Energy a grant of more than $420,000 to install a hybrid energy storage solution in South Africa.

Camco will fit its Red T Energy Storage, which includes solar PV, at Johannesburg’s Thaba Eco Hotel to boost its existing weak grid connection and reduce its dependency on a back-up diesel generator.

The 180kWh technology system will be used in conjunction with a 100kW solar PV installation and an existing diesel generator, Camco said in a company statement.

The system is expected to save the hotel up to 175MWh of power annually, the same amount of power that would have been generated by back-up gensets or consumed by the main power grid.

The project financing of $429,152 was provided by Energy and Environmental Partnership for Southern and East Africa, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, the Austrian Development Agency and the UK Department for International Development.

Nicolette Pombo-van Zyl
Nicolette is the Editor of ESI Africa print journal, ESI-Africa.com and the annual African Power & Energy Elites. She is passionate about placing African countries on the international stage and is driven by the motto "The only way to predict the future is to create it". Join her in creating a sustainable future through articles and multimedia content.