South African energy company Eksom officially launched its flagship Hex battery energy storage project (BESS) in Worcester, Western Cape, last week. It said it is the first of its kind in Africa.
The facility will have a total capacity of 343MW/1440MWh per day and a 60MW solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity. It uses large-scale lithium-ion utility batteries and redox flow batteries are also being considered. The project will be implemented in two phases.
Phase 1 will include Eksom’s installation of eight distribution substations across Kwazulu-Natal, Eastern, Western and Northern Cape. They will allow a 199MW/833MWh of additional storage capacity. Phase 1 also includes approximately 2MWh of PV capacity.
Phase 2 will include the installation of another a 144MW of storage capacity, equivalent to 616MWh at four distribution sites and one transmission site. In this phase, PV capacity will be 58MW, it said. Eksom will own the asset but project developers will carry out operations and maintenance for the first five years.
The BESS seeks to address some of the capacity constraints currently experienced in South Africa. It should relieve pressure on the national grid and allow diversification of the energy mix, in line with South Africa’s commitment to finding more resilient and sustainable sources of energy.
The project is also part of the state’s utility 2023 generation recovery plan, which aims to achieve energy availability of 70% by the end of March 2025. This will be a welcome relief to its inhabitants who regularly experience prolonged cycles of electricity rationing (load shedding). The worst years were 2021 and 2022, while in 2023 outages have sometimes occurred 3–4 times a day for up to 4.5 hours.
Two BESS tech providers were selected for phase one: South Korea’s Hyosung Heavy Industries and China’s Pinggao Group.
Velaphi Ntuli, Eksom’s general manager of distributions and operations enablement, said: “We are pioneering the implementation of the BESS technology, serving as a large-scale commercial project to validate the technology’s feasibility and benefits.”