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CSIR energy storage testbed to support local battery value chain

CSIR researcher and project lead Ranesh Thakoordeen and CSIR researcher Sumi Moodaliyar

CSIR researcher and project lead Ranesh Thakoordeen and CSIR researcher Sumi Moodaliyar

28th March 2023

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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A newly established Indoor Energy Storage Testbed equips the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to test the performance and reliability of lithium-ion batteries, as expressed by their storage capacity, lifecycle and depth of discharge.

This will help build capacity in the South African battery industry, as lower-capacity clients, such as small and medium-sized enterprises, manufacturers and importers, will have access to indoor testbed facilities and overall market knowledge can be improved, the CSIR states.

“The facility will provide much-needed testing for the country. It will be used as a service for technology developers or importers who would like to characterise their technologies for market entry.

"Additionally, it is a stepping stone towards addressing the intermittency challenge of renewable energy,” says CSIR Energy Storage Testbed project leader Renesh Thakoordeen.

“Many businesses and residential homeowners are turning to solar power and batteries to secure their energy supply. But ensuring the quality of such systems is key. The testbed will assist in creating the standards for lithium-ion batteries in South Africa,” he says.

The facility is equipped with a high-precision system for battery module and pack tests. It has many channels to test numerous batteries in parallel under dissimilar test cycles. It also has a new-generation temperature chamber to provide data on the operating behaviour of batteries used in harsh climates, which will impact optimal performance. The harsh temperatures in the Northern Cape, for example, can affect batteries in mine machinery and vehicles.

The testbed will provide valuable data on the batteries powering these machines, enabling the mine to extend machine battery life and provide a safe operating zone.

The testbed, which is part of the collaboration agreement between the CSIR and the Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO), will strengthen South Africa’s ability to support local players in the battery value chain, thereby boosting the country’s capabilities in renewable energy storage. VITO and the CSIR will focus on energy storage technology innovation and localisation, the CSIR says.

“The facility brings hope for sustainable energy and a secure energy future. How we store energy is at the heart of the successful use of renewable resources such as solar and wind. A developing country such as South Africa has to think of technologies that offer long-duration storage, have low operational and maintenance requirements and can withstand harsh climatic conditions,” comments CSIR CEO Dr Thulani Dlamini.

The CSIR says it is grateful for the level of collaboration and scientific support it has received from the government of Flanders in Belgium and its research institutions.

Further, the energy storage testbed is the first step towards broader cooperation between the CSIR and VITO, adds VITO Energy Technology project manager Carlo Mol.

“The CSIR and VITO started their intense cooperation at the end of 2020, owing to the financial support of the government of Flanders for the indoor energy storage testbed. The project funding enabled us to make investments in high-technology equipment for testing batteries in South Africa and build local capacity beyond this.

“It also gives the CSIR and VITO the opportunity to share knowledge on sustainable energy storage solutions for the benefit of South African stakeholders,” he says.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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