South Africa has been experiencing a lot of electricity rationing recently as the power utility, Eskom, struggles to meet demand. We recently looked at how these electricity blackouts have helped nurture South Africa’s nascent stationary storage assembly and manufacturing market. Now one of the players in this space, Blue Nova Energy, a member of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange Listed Reunert Group, looks to be ramping up nicely and has just launched the MegaBoy.
The MegaBoy, which Blue Nova also calls the intelligent Energy Storage System (iESS), is a grid-scale stationary storage product. Blue Nova says this is the first of its kind to be manufactured in South Africa. The MegaBoy is a 250 kW, 1 MWh, scalable battery pack, making it also suitable for rural mini-grids, commercial & industrial (C&I), as well as grid-scale applications. The MegaBoy is designed for both off-grid and grid-connected applications.
With power outages in South Africa ranging from about 2 to 4 hours a day, the MegaBoy could be a perfect drop-in replacement for diesel backup generators at schools, small office parks, small supermarkets, and small shopping centres whose peak power demand is around 250 kW, giving them at least 4 hours of backup time. This would be perfect for space-constrained sites that may have limited space for solar, with the MegaBoy charging from the grid at low demand times.
Energy security is top of the mind for most facilities managers at this point in time, when businesses have been severely affected by the ongoing power cuts. Any savings from charging the battery during off-peak tariff times and discharging during the peak tariff periods would be an added advantage that would make the business case more attractive in the long term.
Blue Nova uses lithium-iron-yttrium-phosphate (LiFeYPO4) prismatic cells from Chinese manufacturers like Winston (Thundersky). These are then assembled into battery packs in South Africa in a containerised solution in which Blue Nova incorporates its own proprietary energy management system, environmental management system, battery management system, fire suppression system, remote monitoring, and an integrated AC distribution system.
Kehua Tech battery inverters (from China) are the chosen inverters integrated into the MegaBoy. Blue Nova lists the lifecycle of the battery as 5000 cycles at 80% DOD (see data sheet). The MegaBoy has already been deployed in South Africa at Reunert Office Park in Midrand, where Blue Nova invited people to see it in action on the 19th of February.
On top of a ready market for backup power applications in South Africa and neighbouring countries like Zambia and Zimbabwe, which are also experiencing frequent power outages, Blue Nova is promoting the MegaBoy for applications such as peak shaving, load shifting, frequency regulation, and voltage regulation.
Blue Nova regularly hosts installer and distributer training sessions (see images) with partners across Southern Africa. By ensuring a strong local support network for installations and maintenance, along with ensuring the availability of parts locally and shorter lead times as compared to similar products imported from overseas, Blue Nova hopes to have a head start and an edge of over international OEMs.
The storage market seems to be heating up in South Africa. On the residential and small commercial side, the Powerwall 2 is now available in South Africa. The Powerpack has been available for a while now, and perhaps Tesla could also be eyeing the grid-scale market with the massive 1.5 kW, 3 MWh Megapack.