November 21 (Renewables Now) - South Africa’s first utility-scale vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) will be deployed and tested over 18 months at local grid operator Eskom’s Research, Testing and Development (RT&D) Centre in Rosherville.
Bushveld Minerals Ltd (LON:BMN) today said commissioning is expected in the first half of next year. The battery, to be produced by UniEnergy Technologies (UET), is to have peak power of 120 kW and will be able to store peak energy of 450 kWh.
Bushveld Energy Ltd, a 84%-owned unit of BMN, is working on the project together with the Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa (IDC). Eskom will test the battery, its performance and applications under various simulations, including minimum load shifting, wind and solar power generation smoothing, power quality improvement and self-black-start capability. Independent power producers (IPPs), energy storage developers, decision-makers and various capital providers will also be able to get access to the VRFB.
After the 18 months of testing, the battery will be moved to a commercial site.
Eskom has identified the need for up to 2 GW of additional, daily balanced energy storage. Fortune Mojapelo, CEO of Bushveld Minerals, pointed out that South Africa is extremely well-positioned to take advantage of the expansion of the energy storage market as it has the second largest reserves of vanadium in the world in the Bushveld Complex.
“This project brings new technology to South Africa to make the local power system more efficient and more importantly create a new industry to not only supply South Africa, but offer significant export potential as well,” Mojapelo said. In 2016, Bushveld Energy and the IDC signed a cooperation agreement to partner to bring significant portions of the VRFB value chain to South Africa.
Christo Fourie, Head of the IDC's New Industries Strategic Business Unit, said that in the next year the company will support the deployment of multiple "pilot" energy storage systems together with local or international partners and technology firms.