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Hybrid Battery System Project Developer Westore Announced As UK Climate Finance Accelerator Member

The commercial and industrial (C&I) solar sector is really starting to take off across several countries on the African continent. Initially the market was characterized by a few projects where customers would install grid-tied solar PV plants after making an upfront payment to an installer or engineering, procurement, and construction company (EPC) on a turnkey basis. The slow adoption of solar in the C&I space was because of the huge upfront costs for large C&I projects, especially those in the megawatt scale. The adoption of solar in the C&I space has picked up now, thanks to a lot of project developers and financiers that are offering long term PPAs over 10 to 20 years.

Technological advancements in the energy storage space, along with significant price reductions in the price of lithium batteries over the last decade, has ignited hope that viable long term contracts for leasing large energy storage systems in a similar fashion to long term PPAs in the C&I space in this part of the world are not far away. Hybrid battery system project developer Westore wants to catalyze the adoption of battery storage in the C&I space through its Peer-to-Peer funding model. Westore’s platform will allow anyone to buy energy storage capacity assets through a crowdsale, and generate income from the storage asset that is contracted long-term to end-users.

Although there has been significant price reductions in the lithium battery storage industry, Westore is building Africa’s first energy storage leasing platform through the integration of advanced lead acid batteries and lithium-based batteries into hybrid energy storage systems. The integration of advanced lead acid batteries in combination with LiFePO4 batteries aims to break the high-cost barrier for energy storage systems and accelerate the use of solar plus storage systems through hybrid battery storage technologies.

Westore will leverage the cost benefit of advanced lead acid batteries supplied by Exfil Energy to combine with locally available LiFePO4 batteries in hybrid combinations to provide funded energy storage assets at the lowest market available leasing or modified PPA rate. Westore says the combination of the two chemistries coupled with appropriate management and algorithms allows hybrid applications to combat unnecessary partial-state-of-charge operation and shallow cycling of the lead-acid component, thereby combining a power and energy configuration that is customizable according to application requirements.

Initially targeting commercial and agricultural customers in South Africa and mini-grid applications in the rest of Africa, Westore aims to focus on funding battery energy storage systems to be coupled with solar PPAs on separate contract terms or on modified PPAs. Westore says that its batteries are locally assembled and locally supported. All of its batteries have a residual end-of-life value and can be returned for recycling. Exfil Energy says the advanced lead acid batteries have some of the following specs:

  • VOLTAGE: 48-VOLT-DC
  • BATTERY: Deep-Cycle Advanced Flooded Lead Acid
  • TYPE: 24 x 2-Volt battery bank
  • CONTAINMENT: Coated Mild-Steel Tank
  • Up to 5x more cycles than competing deep cycle batteries with up to 2000 cycles
  • Up to 15% better energy efficiency compared to competing deep cycle batteries

“We combine the best of both worlds with our Hybrid Lead-Acid/Lithium-ion systems that are build-to-order. Combining a smaller Lithium capacity with a larger Lead-Acid capacity allows for the Lithium to provide the shallow cycles, while maintaining a deep cycle capacity within the Advanced Lead-Acid battery bank.  It allows for much lower overall system cost, higher overall cycle life performance, exceptional Partial-State operations, improved efficiency as well as best economics and Levelised Cost.”

 

In a major boost for Westore, it has just been selected as one of the 15 innovative low-carbon projects to join the UK’s Climate Finance Accelerator (CFA) for the South African Cohort of 2023. The 15 projects will each receive tailored capacity building to help them find investment. The program is part of the UK Government’s investment initiatives into South Africa’s transition to a low carbon economy and is delivered in partnership with the National Business Initiative (NBI) and GreenCape, Westore will receive expert level capacity building sessions delivered by the CFA in preparation for an official investment event scheduled for the end of January 2023, where up to 70 institutional and venture investors with an interest in low carbon transition opportunities will be evaluating various cohort investment opportunities. Westore aims to raise in excess of $5,000,000 to co-fund energy storage assets in Africa in combination with the crowdfunding platform being built.

 

Images from Westore and Exfil Energy

 
 
 
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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since. At university he continued to explore materials with applications in the energy space and ending up doing a PhD involving the study of radiation damage in High Temperature Gas Cooled Nuclear Reactors. He has since transitioned to work in the Solar and Storage industry and his love for batteries has driven him to obsess about electric vehicles.

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