Home South African Eskom launches Africa’s largest battery energy storage system in Western Cape

Eskom launches Africa’s largest battery energy storage system in Western Cape

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Eskom has unveiled the Hex Battery Energy Storage System in Worcester, Western Cape, marking a significant leap in South Africa’s journey towards a sustainable energy future.

Eskom has unveiled the Hex Battery Energy Storage System in Worcester, Western Cape, marking a significant leap in South Africa’s journey towards a sustainable energy future. Picture Supplied.

ESKOM, South Africa’s state-owned electricity supplier, has taken a monumental step in addressing the country’s electricity crisis by launching the Hex Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) in Worcester, Western Cape.

This pioneering project, the largest of its kind in Africa, is set to bolster the national electricity grid and marks a pivotal shift in the nation’s energy landscape.

On Thursday, Eskom officially opened the Hex BESS site at Worcester, a landmark project not only for South Africa but for the entire African continent.

This initiative, first announced in July 2022, is part of Eskom’s flagship BESS project aimed at alleviating the ongoing pressure on the national electricity grid.

The Hex BESS, with its large-scale utility batteries, boasts a total capacity of 1,440MWh per day and a 60MW Photovoltaic (PV) capacity.

Specifically, the Hex site is designed to store 100MWh of energy, sufficient to power towns like Mossel Bay or Howick for approximately five hours.

This project is just the beginning, as it forms part of Phase 1 of Eskom’s broader BESS project.

This phase 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, complemented by about 2MW of solar PV capacity.

Monde Bala, Eskom’s Group Executive for Distribution, expressed gratitude to the project’s funders and construction partner, Hyosung Heavy Industries.

He highlighted the collaborative effort that made this achievement possible, showcasing what can be accomplished through teamwork and community-industry partnerships.

The BESS technology is not just a solution for grid performance improvement; it aligns with South Africa’s commitment to a just energy transition towards a more resilient and sustainable energy future.

This initiative underscores Eskom’s dedication to innovative solutions and new technologies in the evolving energy distribution landscape.

Velaphi Ntuli, Eskom’s General Manager: Distribution, Operations Enablement, emphasised the pioneering nature of the BESS technology.

“This large-scale commercial project validates the technology’s feasibility and benefits, potentially paving the way for its wider adoption and export beyond South Africa’s borders,” he said.

Bheki Nxumalo, Eskom’s Group Executive for Generation, added, “The Hex project exemplifies Eskom’s capability in finding alternative, innovative, and lasting solutions to the country’s electricity challenges.”

The project has also positively impacted the local community of Worcester, employing about 250 locals. It supported 12 early childhood centres with playground and educational materials, donated computers, and provided 500 full school uniforms.

Additional corporate social investment projects are planned for completion by March 2024.

Looking ahead, Eskom plans to launch Phase 2 of the BESS project, which includes installing a further 144MW of storage capacity (equivalent to 616MWh) at four Distribution sites and one Transmission site, with an additional 58MW of solar PV capacity.

This ambitious project represents a significant stride in South Africa’s journey towards an energy-efficient, sustainable future, setting a precedent for the rest of the continent.

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