These companies will supply the first batteries for Eskom’s massive backup energy storage system


Hyosung Heavy Industries and Pinggao Group are the first companies contracted to supply large lithium-ion batteries to Eskom for its Massive Battery Energy Storage System (BESS).

The electric utility told MyBroadband that Hyosung would provide 292 MWh of storage while Pinggao would contribute 395 MWh under Phase 1 of the project.

Founded in 1962, Hyosung is a motor and generator company based in South Korea.

It recently acquired a transformer production plant from Mitsubishi in the United States for $46.5 million (R784 million). In South Africa, it hosts a sales and maintenance office.

Regarding energy storage systems (ESS), the company lists multiple projects on its website, including sites for steel mills and renewable energy plants.

Render showing Hyosung ESS

The other preferred bidder, Pinggao, is a wholly owned subsidiary of China’s State Grid Corporation and was founded in 1970.

According to Bloomberg, the company researches, develops, produces and sells high voltage, extra high voltage, ultra high voltage switchgear and other electrical equipment, some of which is exported.

Eskom selected the preferred bidders after launching an open market tender for the first phase of the project, following a procurement process by the World Bank, which funds the BESS.

Eskom estimates that the cost of the two phases of the project will be around R11 billion.

The utility said the companies underwent an intensive evaluation process using criteria published as part of the tender documents.

“Every effort is made to ensure the project is delivered on time, cost and quality to help with the constraints the system is currently facing,” Eskom said.

When combined, Hyosung and Pinggao will bring 687 MWh of storage to the BESS.

How the BESS will work

Eskom expects the BESS to provide 1,440 MWh of capacity, with dispatchable generation of approximately 343 MW.

The system will primarily be used to reduce national peak load for four hours a day for at least 250 days of the year, which will help reduce the likelihood of load shedding.

Eskom said it will charge for BESS during off-peak periods or when network conditions permit.

The system will then offload energy to the grid during peak periods when demand is higher.

The batteries that make up the BESS will be spread across various locations in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.

The largest site will be at Skaapvlei in the municipality of Matzikama in the Western Cape, with a daily capacity of 320MWh and a dispatchable production of 80MW supplied by Pinggao.

Phase 1 includes eight sites scheduled for construction by June 2023, while Phase 2 will include four additional sites scheduled for completion by December 2024.

Eskom said not all phase 1 sites have been awarded yet. Phase 2 has yet to be delivered to the market.

According to a report of Seetao, the first phase also received offers from general contractors based in the United States and Spain.

The BESS is subject to approval by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa).

The table and map below show the sites where the different parts of the BESS will be installed, from an Eskom presentation to Nersa explaining its license application for the first phase of the project.

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