South Africa

Top Gauteng estate planning R200 million battery bank and solar farms

Midstream Estate, a sought-after residential estate in Midrand, is planning to install a large battery bank to store energy from solar plants, Eskom, and, if required, a bank of generators to protect residents against load-shedding.

The plan to avert load shedding stages 1 to 4 was discussed with Midstream residents at a special Energy Indaba held 7 February 2023.

The residents showed their overwhelming support for the ambitious R200 million plan, which the developers believe can be in place by August 2023.

The plan was proposed by Jan Zeederberg, a founder and director of Bondev, the developer of Midstream estate.

What makes Midstream unique is that it has a smart grid connected to an 11/88kV Eskom substation with metering and control equipment using fibre optic communication to all houses.

“Everything that falls within Midstream is one grid, managed by Midstream Electrical Supplies (MES),” Zeederberg said.

It means that Midstream has a single grid it can control, giving it the flexibility needed to address load-shedding.

Bondev director Jan Zeederberg

Zeederberg explained that the plan started five years ago to see how they could use solar power to supplement energy on the Midstream grid.

He added that 80% of the controls needed to use solar power to avert load-shedding are already in place in Midstream Estate.

The next step is to build an 8MVA battery storage system to protect residents against load-shedding up to stage 4.

The large battery bank will receive energy from solar plants, supplemented during non-load-shedding times by Eskom and, if required, by a bank of generators.

Zeederberg said they have already received interest from people who want to develop solar farms in Midstream.

“Land will be made available to them. They will be connected to the grid, and we will have full redundancy for our electricity supply.”

“We will sync with Eskom’s grid before load-shedding kicks in. It will be seamless – you won’t even know it happened,” he said. “Once the supply from Eskom falls away, the battery system will take over.”

The installed MES load management system can also be extended to houses with high consumption to switch off high-power demand devices during load-shedding.

Midstream smart grid

The immediate plan is to create a reliable, sustainable, and cost-effective electricity supply network within six months that will avert load-shedding up to stage 4.

This network will be extended in future to protect against higher load-shedding levels and then take the estate completely off the grid.

“Delivery of the planned battery bank can take place within 16 weeks of order meaning that the project can be in place in 4 to 6 months,” Zeederberg said.

Residents who participate in the load-shedding protection will only pay according to their consumption during load-shedding.

The additional payments during load-shedding will cover the cost to finance the purchase of the batteries, generators, and the cost to harvest solar energy.

It will also finance other associated costs per Eskom’s norm in their larger energy wheeling agreements.

Bi-directional meters installed by MES will also measure electricity fed into the grid and charge the battery bank. These houses will be compensated accordingly.

Midstream Estate already has over a thousand houses with roof-top solar connected to the electrical grid.


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