South Africa’s electric utility Eskom recently opened the first of its kind largest Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) project not only in South Africa but also on the African continent. The Hex BESS site, located at Worcester in the Western Cape province, is the first project to be completed under Eskom’s flagship BESS project announced in July 2022 to help alleviate the pressure on the national electricity grid and resolve the ongoing electricity crisis.
The company said the Hex BESS project serves as “a direct response to meet one of the urgent needs to address South Africa’s long-running electricity crisis by adding more storage capacity to strengthen the grid while diversifying the existing generation energy mix.”
Eskom’s two-phase project uses large utility-scale batteries with a total capacity of 1,440 MWh per day and 60 MW of solar power. The projects will be implemented in two phases across 12 sites in South Africa.
The Hex site is specifically designed to store up to 100MWh of energy, which is enough to power a small town like Mossel Bay or Howick for up to five hours. This facility is a key part of the first phase of Eskom’s BESS project, which will see the installation of about 833 MWh of additional storage capacity at eight Eskom Distribution substation sites in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, and Northern Cape. This phase will also feature the deployment of around 2MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity.
After the completion of the first phase, Eskom is set to move on to phase 2 of the project. This phase involves installing a further 144MW of storage capacity, equivalent to 616MWh, at four Eskom Distribution sites and one Transmission site. The solar PV capacity for this phase will be 58MW.
“The Hex project is a demonstration of what Eskom teams can do in finding alternative, innovative, and lasting solutions in addressing the country’s electricity challenges,” said Bheki Nxumalo, Eskom’s Group Executive for Generation.
The BESS technology is a versatile solution that can help improve overall grid performance and aligns with South Africa’s commitment to a just energy transition towards a more sustainable and resilient energy future. This initiative showcases Eskom’s dedication to finding innovative solutions and embracing new technologies as we enter a new era in energy distribution.
The implementation of these technologies, together with a disciplined execution of Eskom’s Generation Recovery Plan, which started in March 2023, aimed at achieving an energy availability factor of 70% by the end of March 2025, will help address the country’s capacity constraints and provide much-needed megawatts.