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Bushveld Minerals has announced that its 84%-owned energy subsidiary, Bushveld Energy has confirmed its first vanadium redox flow battery (VRFB) deployment in South Africa. The system will be deployed with Eskom, at its Research, Testing and Development (RT&D) Centre in Rosherville.

The project has been co-developed by Bushveld Energy and the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) and will allow Eskom to test the VRFB, its performance and applications under numerous simulations. This will include minimum load shifting, wind generation smoothing, solar generation smoothing, power quality improvement and self-black-start capability. The VRFB commissioning is expected in the first half of 2018.

Bushveld Energy deploys first VFRB in SAEskom will conduct testing to demonstrate the abilities and maturity of the VRFB for broad commercial use in South Africa and across Africa. Key evaluation criteria expected to especially favour the flexibility of VRFB compared to other technologies include its non-degradation in performance, good round-trip energy efficiency and ability to perform multiple 100% discharge cycles. The testing process is planned to last for 18 months, after which the system will be redeployed to a commercial site.

This is the first utility-scale VRFB to be deployed locally. Eskom, the IDC and Bushveld Energy will jointly facilitate access to the battery for independent power producers, energy storage developers, policy decision-makers as well as various capital providers. This is aimed at realising large scale adoption of VRFBs.

“Through research and extensive experience in this field, Eskom has recognised that there is a need to incorporate energy storage in significant quantities in the future grid as this could be the solution to our needs for increased flexibility. It is important for Eskom to determine the real performance of these batteries prior to widespread installation, especially in view of the current costs and the associated risks of a non-performing technology,” says Thava Govender, Eskom Group Executive for Transmission and Acting Group Executive for Risk & Sustainability.

“As a result, a Large-Scale Battery Testing Facility at Rosherville has been established, which is world class and the first-of-its kind on the African continent. Eskom is also committed to the National Development Plan and Sustainable Development Goals. Through initiatives like this, with the potential of utilising South African resources, these national goals could be achieved in a sustainable manner.”

The VRFB will be produced by UniEnergy Technologies (UET) as a single 20 foot container, with peak power of 120kW and a peak energy storage capability of 450kWh. UET's VRFB employs third-generation technology originally developed at a U.S. National Lab with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.

“This deployment is a critical stepping stone for both Bushveld Energy and the energy storage market in South Africa. This project brings new technology to South Africa to make the local power system more efficient and, more importantly, create a new industry to not only supply South Africa, but offer significant export potential as well. We are pleased to bring all the key stakeholders together in this effort,” says Fortune Mojapelo, CEO of Bushveld Minerals Limited.

Image credit: https://www.bushveldminerals.com/management/

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