Four utility-scale battery projects worth R10bn selected following inaugural public tender

15th December 2023 By: Terence Creamer - Creamer Media Editor

Four utility-scale battery projects worth R10bn  selected following inaugural public tender

The South African government has selected preferred bidders for the development of four utility-scale battery energy storage system (BESS) projects in the Northern Cape, with a combined investment value of R10-billion.

The four BESS installations will have a combined capacity of 360 MW/1 440 MWh, with three using lithium-ion battery technology and one being a lithium-iron-phosphate solution.

Mineral Resources and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe identified the projects as being Oasis Aggeneis (77 MW), Oasis Mookodi (77 MW) and Oasis Nieuwehoop (103 MW), which were bid by EDF Renewables, together with partners and which would be deployed at Eskom-selected substation sites in Aggeneis, Mookodi and Nieuwehoop respectively, and the Scatec-led Mogobe BESS project (103 MW), to be developed at the Ferrum substation.

All the BESS projects have four hours of storage.

EDF Renewables is partnering with Mulilo and black-empowered groups Pele Energy Group and GIBB-Crede on its projects, while Scatec’s empowerment partner is Perpetua Holdings.

Mantashe also reported that the Independent Power Producer (IPP) Office was in negotiations for a project at a fifth site, identified previously as being Garona, also in the Northern Cape.

“An additional preferred bidder will be announced as soon as the value for money negotiations have been concluded,” he said at a briefing in Pretoria.

The four projects have been awarded following an inaugural BESS public procurement bid window for 513 MW/2 025 MWh, known as the Battery Energy Storage Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (BESIPPPP).

A total of 17 bids were received by the August 2 closing date and the projects were selected following an independent evaluation conducted between August and October.

Mantashe said the projects were anticipated to achieve commercial close by June 2024.

He also confirmed a second BESIPPPP bid window for 1230 MW would be launched in weeks, along with the long-delayed Bid Window Seven of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme and an inaugural gas-to-power request for proposals.

“The department is in the process of finalising governance approvals for the release of the requests for the procurement of additional generation capacity,” Mantashe added.

Hybrid Project Closer to Construction

The briefing was followed by a signing ceremony for the legal close of the 75 MW Mulilo Total Hydra Storage Project, which was appointed as a preferred bidder under the much-delayed Risk Mitigation Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (RMIPPPP) in 2021.

The project is being developed by the TotalEnergies Hydra Storage Consortium consisting of TotalEnergies Renewables Southern Africa, Hydra Holdco, and Reatile Renewables.

The hybrid solar photovoltaic/BESS project is proposed for construction in De Aar, in the Northern Cape, and will provide dispatchable renewable electricity daily between 05:00 and 21:30.

“The project anticipates reaching commercial close by mid-December 2023, and will start the 24-month construction phase in early 2024.

The new generation capacity should therefore be online from early 2026,” Mantashe announced.

It is the sixth of an initial 11 RMIPPPP projects to reach commercial close, with the first two of Scatec’s three projects under the programme – Kenhardt 1 and 2 – already in operation and with Kenhardt 3 expected to enter commercial operation in early December. The three projects will provide 150 MW of dispatchable electricity using a combination of renewables and BESS.

The EDF Renewables-led Umoyilanga hybrid project, meanwhile, reached financial close on November 28, and has entered construction, while the Oya hybrid project, being developed by ENGIE and G7 Renewables Energies, is said to be advancing towardz financial close.

IPP Office head Bernard Magoro reiterated that a firm end-of-December deadline had been set for the commercial close of all RMIPPPP projects, which have been locking up scarce grid-connection capacity for over two years.

Besides several hybrid projects that were named as preferred bidders following the launch of the RMIPPPP, the lion’s share of the capacity under the controversial tender was allocated across three floating gas-to-power projects bid by Karpowership.

These projects have faced legal and environmental opposition, but environmental impact assessment (EIA) approvals were recently provided to Karpowership for proposed project sites in Richards Bay and Saldanha Bay.

An appeal has been lodged with regard to the Richards Bay EIA, however.