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South African utility Eskom has inaugurated a first-of-its-kind battery energy storage system (BESS) project, Hex, the largest on the African continent.

Hex, a flagship BESS project, was announced in July 2023 to help ease the pressure on the country’s national electricity grid.

It is a response to the urgent demands of the country’s long-running electricity crisis, and its storage capacity will strengthen the grid while diversifying the existing electricity generation mix.

The Hex site is in Worcester in South Africa’s Western Cape, and features large-scale utility batteries with 1.44 gigawatt-hours of total capacity and 60MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity.

This project can store up to 100MWh of electricity, enough to power a town for five hours, and will feature 2MW of PV capacity.

It is the first phase of the utility’s BESS project plan to install 833MWh of additional storage at eight of its distribution substation sites across KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape, the Western Cape and the Northern Cape.

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The battery storage technology is a flexible solution to improve overall grid performance and complies with the country’s aim to move towards a sustainable energy future.

It also demonstrates the utility’s commitment to embracing new solutions to prepare for a new era in energy distribution.

Eskom Distribution group executive Monde Bala stated: “We are grateful to the various funders of the Eskom BESS project, and to our construction partner Hyosung Heavy Industries. This is proof of what we can achieve when we work as a team and in collaboration with industry and local communities.”

Eskom distribution and operations enablement general manager Velaphi Ntuli stated: “We are pioneering the implementation of the BESS technology, serving as a large-scale commercial project to validate the technology’s feasibility and benefits. The successful implementation will pave the way for wider adoption and possible export of the technology to other regions beyond the borders of South Africa.”