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By Faizel Patel

Senior Digital Journalist

Eskom unveils first of its kind battery storage project in Africa

The Eskom battery storage project can power a small town for up to five hours.

Eskom has unveiled the first of its kind largest Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) project on the African continent which can power a small town for up to five hours.

The parastatal officially opened the Hex BESS site at Worcester in the Western Cape on Thursday.

Ease pressure

Eskom said the Hex BESS is the first project to be completed under Eskom’s flagship BESS project announced in July 2022 to help alleviate the pressure on the national electricity grid.

“The BESS project serves as a direct response to meet one of the urgent needs to address South Africa’s long-running electricity crisis by adding more storage capacity to strengthen the grid while diversifying the existing generation energy mix.

“It uses large scale utility batteries with a total capacity of 1 440MWh per day and a 60MW PV capacity. The Hex site is specifically designed to store 100MWh of energy, enough to power a town such as Mossel Bay or Howick for about five hours.”

Photo: Eskom

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Phase 1

Eskom said the projects forms part of Phase 1 of the entity’s BESS project which includes the installation of approximately 833MWh additional storage capacity at eight Eskom distribution substation sites in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape and Northern Cape. This phase also includes about 2MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity.

Eskom’s Group Executive for Distribution, Monde Bala said:  “We are grateful to the various funders of the Eskom BESS project, and to our construction partner Hyosung Heavy Industries. This is proof of what we can achieve when we work as a team and in collaboration with industry and local communities.”

Energy needs

Bheki Nxumalo, Eskom’s Group Executive for Generation said the project is an example to address the country’s energy needs.

“The Hex project is a demonstration of what Eskom teams can do in finding alternative, innovative and lasting solutions in addressing the country’s electricity challenges,” said Nxumalo.

Phase 2

Upon completion of the first phase, Eskom will implement Phase 2 of the project, which includes the installation of a further 144MW of storage capacity, equivalent to 616MWh at four Eskom distribution sites and one transmission site. The solar PV capacity in this phase will be 58MW.

Eskom said the rollout of these technologies together with a disciplined execution of its Generation Recovery Plan, which started in March, and aimed at achieving energy availability factor of 70% by end of March 2025, will give the country the most needed megawatts to address capacity constraints.

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