Eskom Ushers in a New Era of Power with Africa’s First Large-Scale Battery Energy Storage System

Eskom, South Africa’s national electricity utility, has unveiled a groundbreaking Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) project, marking a pivotal moment in the country’s energy landscape. The Hex BESS, situated in Worcester, Western Cape, stands as the largest BESS project in Africa, showcasing Eskom’s commitment to embracing innovative solutions to address South Africa’s long-standing electricity challenges.

The Hex BESS, with a total capacity of 1,440MWh per day and a 60MW PV capacity, represents the first phase of Eskom’s flagship BESS project, announced in July 2022. This strategic initiative aims to alleviate pressure on the national electricity grid by enhancing storage capacity and diversifying the energy mix.

Specifically designed to store 100MWh of energy, the Hex BESS can power a town the size of Mossel Bay or Howick for approximately five hours. It forms part of Phase 1, which includes the installation of an additional 833MWh of storage capacity across eight Eskom Distribution substation sites in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, and Northern Cape. This phase also encompasses the deployment of 2MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity.

Monde Bala, Eskom’s Group Executive for Distribution, expressed gratitude to the project’s funders and construction partner, Hyosung Heavy Industries. He emphasized the significance of collaboration in achieving such a remarkable feat.

The BESS technology offers a versatile solution for enhancing grid performance, aligning with South Africa’s commitment to a just energy transition towards a more resilient and sustainable energy future. This initiative demonstrates Eskom’s dedication to finding innovative solutions and embracing new technologies in preparation for the evolving energy distribution landscape.

Velaphi Ntuli, Eskom’s General Manager: Distribution, Operations Enablement, highlighted the project’s pioneering role in validating the feasibility and benefits of BESS technology. The successful implementation is expected to pave the way for wider adoption and potential export to other regions beyond South Africa’s borders.

Bheki Nxumalo, Eskom’s Group Executive for Generation, commended the Hex project as a testament to Eskom’s team’s ability to develop alternative, innovative, and lasting solutions to address the country’s electricity challenges.

The Hex project has also brought significant benefits to the local community of Worcester. Approximately 250 local community members were employed during the project’s construction phase. Additionally, Eskom has supported twelve early childhood centers with playground equipment and educational materials, donated computers, and provided five hundred full school uniforms. Further corporate social investment projects are planned before the end of March 2024.

Upon completion of Phase 1, Eskom will proceed with Phase 2, which involves installing an additional 144MW of storage capacity, equivalent to 616MWh, across four Eskom Distribution sites and one Transmission site. This phase will also include the deployment of 58MW of solar PV capacity.

The implementation of these technologies, coupled with the disciplined execution of Eskom’s Generation Recovery Plan, will provide the country with the much-needed megawatts to address capacity constraints. The Generation Recovery Plan, initiated in March 2023, aims to achieve an energy availability factor of 70% by the end of March 2025.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *