Government working on 'world class' battery storage project – Gordhan

Government intends to sign off soon on a "world class" battery storage project, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has said.

The minister was briefing members of the portfolio committee on public enterprises on the special paper on Eskom, released in October. It outlines timelines for the unbundling of the power utility into three entities - generation, transmission and distribution - as well as other reforms to stabilise it.

The paper is in line with the Integrated Resources Plan – the state's blueprint for electricity production, which was also recently gazetted by Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe. The IRP also makes provision for renewable, clean energy sources.

Speaking at the briefing on Wednesday, Gordhan commented on developments in the clean energy space.

"We will sign off soon on an important project that Eskom will get involved in, which uses in a large part a loan made by the World Bank to the construction of the Medupi Power Station. And that is the battery storage project. It could become quite an important, world class project when it begin to get off the ground in the next year or so," Gordhan said. More information will be provided in due course, he added.

BusinessTech in September had reported on the 1.4GwH battery storage project announced during a Webinar by Eskom's general manager for power delivery engineering Prince Moyo.

Storage technologies, such as battery systems, were punted in the IRP, particularly for the storage of renewable energy.

In South Africa, over six GW of renewable energy has been introduced, but the power system does not have the required "storage capacity or flexibility", according to the IRP.

"The traditional power delivery model is being disrupted by technological developments related to energy storage, and more renewable energy can be harnessed despite the reality that the timing of its production might be during low-demand periods," the IRP said of the storage technologies.