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South Africa Issues Tender For 513 MW/2,052 MWh Battery Storage Spread Across 5 Sites

South Africa’s Department of Mineral Resources and Energy has formally invited interested parties to register prospective bids under the Battery Energy Storage Capacity Bid Window of the Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme (Battery Energy Storage IPPPP). The Bid Submission is scheduled to close on 5 July 2023, at 17:00.

The tender stipulates that the minimum energy capacity for each substation should ensure at least 4-hour storage capacity. The batteries will be installed at the following substations:

  • Aggeneis 77 MW with minimum 308 MWh energy capacity
  • Ferrum 103 MW with minimum 412 MWh energy capacity
  • Garona 153 MW, with minimum 612 MWh energy capacity
  • Mookodi 77 MW with 308 MWh energy capacity
  • Nieuwehoop 103 MW with minimum 412 MWh energy capacity

All these sites are in the Northern Cape province.

According to Eskom’s Generation Connection Capacity Assessment of the 2023 Transmission Network (“GCCA – 2023“) in June 2021, the Northern Cape Power corridors are highly saturated now and constrained, therefore are not able to evacuate any new additional generation capacity. Consequently, the Northern Cape requires substantial upstream network strengthening in order to facilitate new generation capacity.

The Northern Cape has been the go to province for large utility-scale renewable energy project developers due to its excellent solar and wind resources. These new battery projects could play some role in transmission and distribution congestion relief in the region. IRENA’s Innovation Landscape Brief on utility-scale batteries says when congestion occurs only in specific situations for a very limited period, energy storage systems located at congestion points can be used as “virtual power lines” to enhance the performance and reliability of the system and that utility-scale battery storage systems, as part of infrastructure, can be used to store energy from renewable energy generation to address peak demand exceeding the network capacity.

The brief adds that battery storage systems can provide instantaneous response to transmission-distribution network systems to manage any variability caused by generation from renewable energy sources. Batteries could be controlled directly by system operators to provide an instantaneous response during the few hours each year when the existing network substations may be overloaded. Also, instead of upgrading the substation capacity from, for example, 10 MW to an oversized 15 MW, system operators could instead procure the exact incremental amount of storage to meet demand forecasts. The brief then gives some examples from Italy and the other places. It says Italy’s transmission system operator, Terna, deployed a pilot battery storage project of 35 MW on a part of its 150 kilovolt (kV) grid in Southern Italy for grid congestion management (Terna, 2018). Utility-scale batteries are also used for grid upgrade deferral in California, New York and Texas.

It’s good to see Eskom is looking into more battery projects. Late last year, Eskom and Hyosung Heavy Industries, one of the appointed service providers for the Eskom Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) project, began construction of the first energy storage facility under Eskom’s flagship BESS projects. The Elandskop BESS site is located within Msunduzi and Impendle Local Municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal. Construction will take between seven and twelve months and the batteries on the site will be charged from the main grid via Eskom’s Elandskop substation. The facility will have a capacity of 8 MW, equivalent to 32 MWh of distributed electricity, enough to power a town such as Howick for four hours. Among the notable benefits of the BESS is that it will boost the network during peak hours, thereby reducing the strain on the network during peak hours.

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