South Africa’s Eskom starts operation of first utility-scale BESS project

South Africa’s state-owned energy company, Eskom, has officially commenced operations of the initial phase of its first utility-scale battery energy storage system (BESS) project, part of a World Bank-funded programme.

This ground-breaking initiative encompasses eight projects, collectively providing a storage capacity of 199 MW and the capability to discharge 833 MWh of electricity over a minimum of four hours. The inaugural project, the Hex BESS site, boasts a capacity of 20 MW/100 MWh and is strategically located on Eskom’s distribution network in Worcester, Western Cape. Notably, the batteries for this project were supplied by South Korea’s Hyosung. It was confirmed that despite initial delays at some sites, all seven of other Phase 1 projects are progressing as scheduled. These include the Skaapvlei, Graafwater, and Paleisheuwel sites in the Western Cape, Elandskop and Pongola projects in KwaZulu-Natal, Rietfontein site in the Northern Cape, and Melkhout site in the Eastern Cape. The Hex BESS site has the capacity to supply 100 MWh of energy daily, equivalent to the consumption of a town the size of Mossel Bay for approximately five hours. Phase 1 also integrates around 2 MW of solar photovoltaic capacity coupled with the Rietfontein project, addressing electricity supply constraints. While Phases 1 and 2 are funded through a World Bank loan component of USD3.75 billion, Phase 2, which aims to introduce an additional 144 MW/616 MWh of BESS, is temporarily on hold.