South Africa explores battery storage on network


The recently released South Africa Energy Storage Technology and Market Assessment report advocates that South Africa requires market preparation to take advantage of growth opportunities from energy storage.  According to an article published by Creamer Media, “research on and the application of such storage is actively being pursued.”

Bertie Strydom, senior project developer at the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) told Engineering News that local opportunities could be opened up for “mining and beneficiation, research and development, commercial exploitation and industry development.”

The study highlights opportunities for energy storage for utilities and municipalities. Sponsored by USTDA, it highlights opportunities for storage in South Africa, including flexibility and advanced grid management.

Storage benefits

According to Paul Vermeulen, City Power demand side management and supply side management manager, utility scale storage could be used for tariff arbitrage, “probably one of the most realisable benefits.”

Vermeulen believes that ‘stacking’ – whereby storage is placed at constrained parts of the grid to create an accumulation of benefits – may be another economic benefit. He told Creamer Media: “stacking makes energy storage more economically viable” becoming more valuable the further it is deployed along the distribution value chain.

Correctly placing storage systems at the right place on the grid means that its full value can be realised across both transmission and distribution networks.

However, Vermeulen believes that the most value from storage is likely to be realised when utilised by municipal distribution systems. This is especially so given that much of the country’s distribution assets fall under municipal control.

Projects in Thembelihle and Lawley, under the auspices of City Power, are piloting the supply of energy using a constrained bulk supply from Eskom. Utilising “a conventional grid system augmented with photovoltaics plus storage, for every cluster of 12 houses, an additional power system, comprising a pylon with a 3 kW photovoltaic panel, a control box and a battery that can deliver about 2 kWh of stored energy, is installed.”

Donor funding is being sought by City Power for a pilot utility-scale storage system, although the utility is considering alternative business models for private capital funded storage within their networks.

National utility, Eskom is placing significant emphasis on the development of large-scale storage. Eskom has established a battery testing and demonstration facility in Johannesburg in order to perform comparative testing across different technologies and products. Testing is currently being undertaken on lithium-ion batteries and sodium nickel chloride battery technology. However, there are plans to test another three technologies in the near future.