South Africa’s biggest solar battery storage system started supplying electricity to the national grid last year, contributing more power than the last unit at Komati Power Station.
Scatec ASA revealed in December that its Kenhardt hybrid solar and battery facility in the Northern Cape officially started providing electricity to the national grid on 11 December 2023.
The plant was built with funding of approximately $1 billion (R18.65 billion) from lenders, including Standard Bank as lead arranger and British International Investment (BII).
Three solar plants with a combined 540 MW capacity form the heart of this facility, alongside a battery system boasting 225 MW output.
The battery has a 1,140 MWh capacity and can consistently deliver 150 MW of dispatchable power year-round between 5 am and 9:30 pm.
That is around 30 MW more output than the Komati Power Station’s last unit was producing when Eskom decommissioned the 61-year-old plant in October 2022.
MyBroadband reported that Scatec is selling electricity from the facility to Eskom under a 20-year power purchase agreement.
The company said the project was one of the world’s first and largest hybrid solar and battery storage facilities.
“With the ability to deliver reliable power in low or no sunlight, the integrated storage enhances overall reliability,” Scatec said in a press statement.
“Notably, the project outperformed fossil fuels in a competitive bid, cementing renewables’ ascendance as the most cost-effective electricity source.”
The battery section consists of 456 units, each the size of a shipping container and tips the scale at 30 tonnes.
In a social media post, BYD Energy said the battery used at the plant was one of its systems.
The Chinese firm is one of the world’s leading battery manufacturers, offering commercial and utility-scale storage products.
The South African government has had formal discussions to convince the company to open a local factory.
Aside from the Kenhardt facility, Scatec has over 448 MW of solar power operating in South Africa.
This project is part of an extraordinary solar boom in South Africa, with the private sector registering 4,530 MW of renewable energy projects in 2023 – nearly three times as much as in 2022.
This is according to information from the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa), which indicates which generation facilities must be registered.
The growth in private renewable energy is reflective of the impact of a regulatory reform that, from 2022, dropped the requirement for generation facilities to obtain a licence.