Reliable, cost-effective energy supply 24x7 is an essential resource for successful mining operations, whether grid-connected or off-grid. In Africa, reliability of utility-sourced electricity is becoming more and more of a challenge, while off-grid diesel generation and the cost and logistics of fuel supply is increasingly problematic. And in both scenarios, the CO2 footprint and increasing carbon tax needs to be considered. The mining industry is therefore exploring the option of solar energy to partially substitute energy from both sources; however, solar energy on its own cannot be utilised 24x7 in line with an optimal mining operation, and therefore is not complete without long-duration energy storage.
Africa Energy Storage Solutions (AESS) has a focus on clean energy storage solutions in Southern and East Africa. We believe that clean energy requires clean batteries.
AESS represents ESSINC, manufacturers of the Iron Flow Battery, in this region and is primarily responsible for business development, while working with established EPC organisations with a track record in delivering large renewable energy projects at a national and international level.
In this role, AESS has been instrumental in both the selection of the ESSINC Iron Flow Battery as the storage technology of choice by a Southern Africa energy company working in SADC regions, and the first concept design of a 10MW/40MWh battery for delivering solar power 24x7 at various locations.
ESSINC is an established flow battery manufacturing company based in the USA, and has commercialised the ESSINC Iron Flow Battery in 2015. There are two product configurations using the same Iron Flow Redox electrolyte and power modules:
- Energy Warehouse, a containerised turn-key solution, providing 33, 50 or 100kW ratings and 400kWh storage capacity. These may be stacked to several MW/MWh capacity.
- Energy Centre, a “battery in a building” concept for multiple MW/MWh applications, using the exact same technology as the Energy Warehouse, but configured in multiple skid configurations according to requirements up to 1GW. This concept allows for the independent specification of power output (MW) and energy capacity (MWh), utilising the ability of flow battery technology to determine the energy capacity by the size of the electrolyte tank.
A summary of the features and benefits, according to ESSINC, are:
- Unlimited Cycling – Lithium-ion batteries are typically only guaranteed for one cycle per day. The ESSINC Iron Flow Battery can be fully cycled continuously without limitation, as validated by extensive DOE ARPA-E testing.
- Zero Degradation – Iron Flow batteries do not degrade with use and do not require “augmentation”, even when cycled continuously.
- Wide Range of Operating Temperatures – Iron Flow batteries run without need for air conditioning or supplemental heating in ambient temperatures from -5C to 50C.
- Lowest Cost of Service – Iron Flow batteries have the lowest overall cost of service for long duration or multi-cycling requirements, especially so in “workhorse”, heavy use applications.
- Long Life Asset – The ESSINC containerized storage system has a design life of 25 years. We conducted advanced cycle testing for the U.S. Department of Energy simulating over 4 decades of use with no degradation in performance. ESSINC have yet to see any performance degradation at any level and have had no product failures since introducing our first commercial unit in 2015.
- No hazardous Materials – Iron Flow batteries use no hazardous materials, which means no hazmat training, no hazmat suits, no hazardous chemicals disposal plan, and easy permitting. It also makes it easy to localize routine maintenance.
- Export–Import Credit Finance Instruments – United States Ex-Im Bank financing is available for up to 85% of the project cost for qualifying customers to purchase our energy storage platforms. Coupled with our industry-first performance and business continuity coverage backed by Munich Re, our products are now among the world’s most bankable energy storage platforms.