On Monday, American automotive and energy storage company Tesla Motors addressed delegates attending a U.S. Energy Information Administration energy conference in Washington, on South Africa’s electricity grid’s potential for energy storage.
By delaying investing in new generation infrastructure, the South African power utility Eskom, has impeded the delivery of a reliable power supply to its customers.
Opportunity for storage
Tesla CTO and co-founder J.B Straubel claimed: “South Africa actually has an electric grid that has huge implications for storage.”
The state-owned power company, which supplies 95% of the country’s power, has had to enforce rolling black-outs since March 2014, when it began its struggles with the existing coal fleets’ ailing infrastructure, unplanned technical faults and depleting water and diesel reserves, Bloomberg reported.
According to Straubel South Africa has “a huge market for storage, where we can both effect resiliency, as well as backup, as well as helping expand the infrastructure to do more.”
In May, Tesla CEO and co-founder Elon Musk, launched a rechargeable lithium-ion battery that has the ability to store solar-generated power for load shifting, temporary backup power and self-consumption.
The mounted Powerwall system includes a home battery pack that can store solar energy until needed, a potential solution which could ease pressures off both South African homeowners and the national electricity grid.
According to Straubel, the energy storage company is exporting the Powerwall battery system at the retail price of $350 per kWh [ZAR4,345 per kWh], Bloomberg reported.
Straubel added that this figure may decrease to an estimated $100/$150 [ZAR1,200/ZAR1,800] within the next five years as the manufacturing costs drop, similarly to that of the solar power market.
S.African renewable market
The South African department of Energy has procured a total of 6,327MW through its Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).
According to the department of energy, the renewable programme was implemented in 2011 to drive socio-economic and environmental sustainable growth by integrating and developing a renewable industry in South Africa.
Under the REIPPP Programme there are a total of 92 power projects including, on-shore wind, concentrated solar power, solar PV with the most recently added hydropower and biomass.