Grid-scale containerised energy storage system launched in South Africa

19th February 2020 By: Darren Parker

Grid-scale containerised energy storage system launched in South Africa

The BlueNova iESS

Energy solutions company BlueNova Energy, part of JSE-listed Reunert Group, on Wednesday launched its grid-scale Intelligent Energy Storage System (iESS) at Reunert Park, in Midrand, where the first unit has been installed to support businesses occupying the office park.

The BlueNova Energy iESS, which is housed in a shipping container, is the first of its kind to be produced in South Africa.

The system is equipped with a battery storage converter; a self-developed environmental management system; an industrial-grade heating, ventilation and air-conditioning system; and a lithium iron phosphate (LiFePO4) battery pack, which can store up to 1 MWh of energy.

The system’s building block has a 250 kW power output, with 1 000 kWh installed stored energy, and is scalable to provide more than 250 MW output power with 1 GWh installed energy capacity.

The iESS is designed for both offgrid and grid-connected applications.

“While many systems exist to provide essential power during outage periods, this system is designed to be able to provide total power during outages,” BlueNova Energy CEO James Verster said at the launch event.

One key application for the system is load shifting, which is the practice of buying energy from the grid during low-tariff periods, then storing it in the iESS for discharge during peak tariff periods to offset energy costs.

Peak shaving is another possible use for the system, which involves using stored energy to ensure that peak grid energy use is limited.

Voltage and frequency stabilisation to prevent surges or drop-offs in power is another use for the system.

The system is also a reliable source of total backup power during grid failures and load-shedding.

Up to 40 iESS systems can be used in parallel when used off the grid. There is no limit when connected to the grid, Verster said.

He pointed out that the cell chemistry was central to the design of the iESS to ensure safety.

“LiFePO4 is the safest of all lithium-ion batteries, with no thermal events recorded in 25 years of rigorous testing.”

The 99%-efficient battery inverters are supplied by Chinese energy solutions company Kehua Tech.

“The key reason for owning an iESS is to save money. However, more importantly, it is to ensure security of supply. If a business can’t maintain its supply, it will die,” Verster said.

He conceded that iESS systems could easily be imported but stressed the need for local technical support, which was often not available when such systems are imported.

BlueNova Energy’s systems include full local technical aftermarket support, including the provision of spares.

Moreover, the company provides support to the implementation team, assistance with design integration, as well as training for owners and operators.

All maintenance is provided according to a standard service level agreement.