Eskom will soon release a new tender for a 1.4 gigawatt-hours battery storage project.
The project will consist of supplying, installing and operating distributed battery storage infrastructure at Eskom sub-stations across the country.
Presenting in a webinar on Wednesday (25 September) Prince Moyo, Eskom’s GM for power delivery engineering, said that the project will be completed in two phases.
The first phase will consist of eight sites that will focus on batteries with 200 megawatts/800 megawatt-hours of capacity to be built by December 2020.
The second phase will consist of 10 sites (or less) 160 megawatts/640 megawatt-hours of capacity by December 2021.
“Battery storage installations will assist in various ways, amongst them capital expenditure deferral on distribution networks, storing energy for discharge at peak times and frequency support,” Eskom said in response to emailed questions.
“We do not have a specific date regarding when the tender will be released but it will be after Eskom has received all statutory approvals from authorities and support from our funding partners. This is imminent,” it said.
It added that it has already partnered with the World Bank Group and other funders to help finance the project.
The new project comes as Eskom faces increasing financial and structural issues.
The power utility communicated its summer plan on the 4th September 2019 at a media briefing held at Megawatt Park, where it indicated that while no load shedding is expected over summer, the system is ‘still tight and vulnerable’, as it ramps up plant maintenance
At the end of August 2019, the power utility said that an acceleration in economic growth in South Africa could trigger power cuts.
The energy availability of Eskom’s generation fleet is supposed to be as high as 80%, but is currently as low as 69%, and even a 0.1% rise in gross domestic product could result in outages, Nelisiwe Magubane, an Eskom board member said.
The state-owned utility, which supplies about 95% of South Africa’s power, has a mountain of debt and is reliant on government bailouts to remain solvent.
It is also contending with operational issues – most of its power stations are nearing retirement age and haven’t been properly maintained, while the construction of two new plants are running years behind schedule and way over budget.