Renewable Energies South Africa - Eskom to finalise battery storage project

Renewable Energies South Africa – Battery storage projects

South Africa’s public electricity utility Eskom is currently in talks with suppliers to provide around 1.4GWh of battery energy storage. On Thursday, 12th of May, it was revealed by Eskom during its State of the System briefing, that the tender for phase 1 of the BESS project (Battery Energy Storage Systems) has been completed and the management has finished reviewing the bids.

Project progress

According to Eskom COO Jan Oberholzer, three suppliers have been recommended to the board and approved. Meanwhile, the utility has now completed preliminary discussions with the successful bidders and submitted draft contract documents to them. Oberholzer said one of the bidders had already signed for the project, while Eskom was still waiting for the other two to sign. Eskom said that it would announce the names of the providers before the end of May 2022.

Storage of renewable energies South Africa

The batteries from the project will be installed at Eskom's substations, including renewable energy power plants, to store energy and release it when needed. Battery storage is seen as a crucial component to complement renewable power generation. While coal, gas and nuclear power plants can generate electricity under almost all environmental conditions, solar and wind energy is subject to natural fluctuations. Storage that captures excess energy during power generation and releases it when demand is high can increase the potential contribution of these energy sources to South Africa's overall energy needs.

Facts and figures around the battery storage project

For its battery energy storage systems, Eskom plans to procure a total output capacity of 344MW with a storage capacity of 1,376MWh to 1,440MWh to provide four-hour supply during peak demand. In the first phase, 200MW of output power and 833MWh of storage will be procured. They will form part of Eskom's flagship battery storage system, which includes 90 sites in the coastal provinces of Western Cape, Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

André de Ruyter, CEO of Eskom, had previously stated that the investment would be around R14 billion. Indeed, it would be possible to procure 1,000 Tesla Megapack batteries with a capacity of 770 MW and a storage capacity of 3,080 MWh for less than this price. Alternatively, Eskom could use its original configuration and purchase 447 Megapacks for less than half of its planned spending on the project.