Eskom’s Hex Battery Energy Storage System is a step in the right direction

Eskom’s Hex Battery Energy Storage System is a step in the right direction

Projects like Eskom’s Hex Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) in Worcester in the Western Cap can assist the country in ending load shedding.

This is according to Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan who said these kinds of projects create hope that sooner rather than later, South Africa is going to overcome the challenge of load shedding.

Minister Gordhan was delivering remarks at the launch of Eskom’s Battery Energy Storage System at the Hex substation in the Breede Valley Municipality.

The project – which was launched on Thursday – is a first in Africa.

“If we do more of these kinds of projects in other parts of the country, which is what Eskom intends to do, we will see the end of load shedding pretty soon. Today, after a few hiccups, you see in live form, the launch of this BESS project right in front of us. It is a great achievement for Eskom and the country.

“Eskom is demonstrating that it can have a sense of urgency, it can have an important quality that we all need in South Africa and elsewhere – which is the ability to innovate and create new ways of doing things. And not just think about them, but concretely deliver them. That is the key,” the Minister said.

BESS is a giant step in the right direction to support the Just Energy Transition (JET) programme for boosting green energy as a renewable alternative source. As renewable energy begins to grow, so does the demand for the installation of Battery Energy Storage Systems.

The Hex battery storage project is the first part of Eskom’s Battery Energy Storage System rollout scheduled for construction in the Western Cape, Northern Cape, Easter Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

Through these kinds of projects, the Minister said, the country will grow economically and be able to create more jobs.

“We are going to get more investments, not just in the Western Cape but the whole country. Our younger people can look toward to a much better life than those of us that have lived through the last few decades.

“So, this is an opportunity to demonstrate to our own people and citizens, and the globe, that South Africans are innovative, and can deliver world class solutions like the one that we actually see today,” he said.

The Minister emphasised that it is important that focus is placed on what is best for the country, and what is best for the people of the country, and not for the few individuals who want to become rich as a result of these projects.

Quoting the recent Census results, Gordhan said that there are 62 million people who must be beneficiaries of these sorts of projects and of the work that is being done.

The Minister reiterated government’s aim which is to have enough electricity or energy security in this country.

“So, there must be a reserve, just like you have in a savings account for a day when you need some cash. In the same way, you need an energy savings account because you don’t know when you are going to need extra energy.

“Right now, we have a shortage. We need to get to a point where we have a surplus. And we need to continue keeping that surplus. And Eskom as an institution is going to play a crucial part in developing that surplus through the investment of the private sector in renewables and other forms of energy,” the Minister said.

He explained that the 120 battery banks cost a fair amount of money – R830 million – and during the construction 255 residents of the greater Worcester area were employed.

He said they must take the experience and the lessons that will be learnt from this project and use it elsewhere, to make whatever changes that are necessary to have more successful projects in the remaining provinces.

Minister Gordhan extended his gratitude to the funders. He said that without the concessional funding that they have for Eskom from the World Bank, African Development Bank, and the New Development Bank, they would not have been able to prosecute this project.

He also thanked Hyosung Heavy Industries, who supplied the batteries. The Minister further thanked Eskom for thinking about this idea and for researching the idea. –