Amid State-owned power utility Eskom’s announcement of there being a high risk of rotational load-shedding, which will be implemented only if absolutely necessary, power management company Eaton South Africa MD Seydou Kane says energy storage solutions can play an important role in creating more flexible and reliable power.
“Energy storage enables users to come off the grid and switch to stored electricity at a time most beneficial, allowing for greater flexibility and control of electrical use.”
Energy storage solutions provide not only flexibility but also cost savings, should they be integrated into a company’s power grid, notes Kane.
He states that the company’s factory in Wadeville, Johannesburg, has been using stored energy from its microgrid for almost one year. Since the integration of energy storage solutions into its grid in March last year, the plant has increased resilience, offers high levels of energy independence and has reduced energy costs.
“To date, the factory recorded an estimate of more than 40% savings towards its energy bill using solar photovoltaic energy stored in batteries. Because tariffs are high, especially from 6 am to 9 am and from 4 pm to 8 pm, Eaton uses energy stored in batteries and charges them when the tariffs are low,” he adds.
Kane mentions that the estimated savings also includes factory uptime because, when the factory is not operating, it is a loss to the organisation. However, he says the 40% savings do not include the load-shedding of the past few months.
Eaton uses lithium-ion batteries as a form of energy storage. Kane notes that lithium-ion batteries – the same type of batteries used in mobile phones and electric vehicles – are currently the most widely used.
He points out that energy storage solutions, like microgrids, can complement Eskom and can add more reliability to the overall electricity system in South Africa.
Although it is a challenging time for the power industry, stakeholders – public and private – must engage in innovative ideas together for additional electricity solutions, Kane concludes.