Eskom has announced the inauguration of the largest Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) project on the African continent, marking a significant milestone not only for South Africa but for the entire region. The Hex BESS site, situated in Worcester, Western Cape, was officially unveiled by Eskom, representing the inaugural completion of the BESS project announced in July 2022. This strategic endeavour aims to alleviate strain on the national electricity grid, addressing the persistent challenges in South Africa’s power supply.

The Hex BESS project is a proactive measure in response to the ongoing electricity crisis, providing a crucial boost to the grid’s resilience. By incorporating large-scale utility batteries, the project boasts an impressive total capacity of 1,440MWh per day, complemented by a 60MW PV capacity. This not only enhances storage capabilities but also contributes to the diversification of the energy mix, marking a significant step towards a more sustainable and robust energy infrastructure in the country.

The Hex site has been meticulously crafted to accommodate the storage of 100MWh of energy, a capacity substantial enough to sustain a town, such as Mossel Bay or Howick, for approximately five hours. This initiative constitutes an integral component of Phase I within Eskom’s broader BESS project. Phase I involves the implementation of approximately 833MWh of additional storage capacity distributed across eight Eskom Distribution substation sites located in KwaZulu-Natal, Eastern Cape, Western Cape, and Northern Cape.

Furthermore, this initial phase encompasses the incorporation of approximately 2MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity, further underscoring Eskom’s commitment to enhancing sustainable energy solutions.

Eskom Group Executive for Generation Bheki Nxumalo said: “The Hex project is a demonstration of what Eskom teams can do in finding alternative, innovative and lasting solutions in addressing the country’s electricity challenges.”

The Hex project has brought tangible benefits to the local community of Worcester, actively engaging with approximately 250 local residents. In a commitment to community welfare, Eskom has supported twelve early childhood centres by providing playgrounds and educational materials, along with donations of computers and five hundred complete school uniforms. Additionally, Eskom has outlined plans for several other corporate social investment projects slated for execution before the conclusion of March 2024.

Looking ahead, the completion of Phase I sets the stage for Eskom’s Phase I of the project. This ambitious phase involves the installation of an additional 144MW of storage capacity, equivalent to 616MWh, strategically distributed across four Eskom Distribution sites and one Transmission site. The solar PV capacity in this phase is set to reach 58MW.

In tandem with these technological advancements, Eskom is executing its Generation Recovery Plan, initiated in March 2023. This plan is geared towards achieving an energy availability factor of 70% by the end of March 2025. The coordinated efforts in implementing these technologies, coupled with the Generation Recovery Plan, are poised to deliver much-needed megawatts, effectively addressing capacity constraints and contributing to the nation’s energy sustainability.