State-owned power utility Eskom’s research, testing and development (RTD) department has unveiled a battery testing and demonstration facility – the only one of its kind in South Africa.
The objective of the facility, based at Eskom’s Research and Innovation Centre in Rosherville, Johannesburg, is to compare different technologies and supplier products under identical South African conditions and to identify which of these products is suitable for Eskom’s future energy storage needs.
Eskom considers storage solutions to be ‘grid strengthening’ and highlights them as key for the integration of renewable energy sources into the grid, as storage helps with the integration of renewable energy supplied by independent power producers being fed into the grid.
“We have identified the need for up to 2 000 MW of additional, daily balanced energy storage within the existing grid,” RTD GM Barry MacColl said in a statement on Thursday.
Globally, the need for energy storage to smooth the output of wind and solar farms is being recognised and, as a result, as much as 2 000 MW is expected to be required to accommodate the up to 18 000 MW of renewable generation included in South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan 2010.
The timing of production from solar power added to the grid is such that Eskom will need to provide additional peak power generation, or load shift the energy produced into times when the sun is not shining.
Another key use of energy storage is to help strengthen the transmission and distribution infrastructure, to defer capital expenditure and to provide voltage and frequency support.
“The future need for energy storage is, therefore, clear. However, the existing technologies are only at the beginning stages of commercial development,” said MacColl.