The decreasing cost of energy storage solutions presents many opportunities for South Africa to manage the key issue of localised peak load power generation more efficiently, says green energy solutions provider Freedom Won co founder and director Antony English.
He explains that, internationally, power utilities are increasingly employing large-scale chemical-based energy storage solutions, such as lithium-ion batteries, to manage peak demand and geographically specific grid transmission capacity constraints. With the acquisition cost of energy storage technology significantly decreasing in the past year, this option is only becoming more appealing.
“Solar in particular, but also wind energy, does not generate power when it is most needed. Renewable-energy sources such as these should be leveraged much harder in South Africa to solve the peak demand problem and this can be done by incorporating energy storage on a more extensive scale.”
Particularly compelling is the benefit that storage can offer to the energy sector by virtue of the low life cycle cost of operating such systems, compared with the massive costs associated with upgrading generation and transmission for handling peak loads, both nationally and on a local municipal level.
“Energy storage used in strategically located peaking plants will also enable transmission infrastructure spend to be focused on presently unserved or underserved areas of South Africa, as opposed to spending limited resources on costly upgrades in overstressed sections of the grid.”
English notes that a challenge for large-scale implementation of energy storage is, however, instilling an awareness and acceptance that battery technology need not be encumbered by the poor performance of obsolete technologies such as lead acid batteries, but instead that game changing and unparalleled performance is on offer.
“The purchase price of a lithium-ion battery requires a long-term view regarding the return on investment, which requires forward thinking and strategic intent – traits that need to be developed further in the African context. State and institutional support for funding energy storage projects also need to be enhanced.”
Despite this, English is confident that, in the long term, energy storage will become ubiquitous in both small- and large-scale energy applications, driven mostly by the economic benefits it offers, and even without State support.
The new possibilities provided by the lower cost of robust storage technologies will also see it being used extensively in grid connected peak demand sharing and in large-scale renewable energy plants, for enhancing the time-based availability of renewable energy.
“Demand will continue growing at an ever-increasing pace for energy storage in residential right through to large industrial users, owing to the benefits of stability of supply and lower overall energy cost – among others.”
English will be leveraging his experience and expertise in lithium energy storage as a panellist on the energy storage panel discussion at this year’s POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa, held at the Sandton Convention Centre from July 18 to 20.
Thermodynamic technology developer Heat Recovery Micro Systems owner Johan Enslin will introduce a disruptive new avenue for renewable-energy generation that can significantly lower electricity costs for power utilities and smaller decentralised power generating systems at this year’s POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa.
The regenerative heat of solution (REHOS) thermodynamic cycle is the culmination of ten years of intensive research and development by Johannesburg-based Heat Recovery Micro Systems, and Enslin enthuses that the benefits of the technology will become a common form of power generation globally within the next few years.
“Finding a solution that meets global demand for affordable, sustainable, baseload power generation with zero emissions has long been the ultimate goal for researchers globally,” says Enslin.
He adds that, with low-cost, emission-free, modular renewable power gaining popularity globally, there is huge demand for technology that can facilitate a rapid, but economically viable, transition from coal power generation to renewable-energy sources. “Heat Recovery Micro Systems has risen to the occasion by developing the REHOS thermodynamic cycle.”
Enslin explains that heat recovery of lower-temperature heat sources, typically below 200 ºC, such as geothermal and solar thermal sources, has led to the introduction of organic refrigerants as operating media in thermodynamic cycles. Up until now, however, waste heat at temperatures lower than 80 ºC has not been considered economically viable to convert to power on a large scale.
The REHOS cycle is a closed-loop binary cycle derived from absorption refrigeration principles. It uses existing, proven process components in a novel interconnected configuration to form a new thermodynamic cycle that is engineered to absorb ambient heat from the environment at below 70 ºC and convert it into power with high-energy conversion efficiency.
Enslin explains that, in essence, the REHOS cycle is a modified absorption refrigeration cycle, with the refrigeration effect replaced by a power turbine and external heat input achieved through using a heat pump.
The binary cycle comprises a pressure pump, heat exchangers, a vapour compressor and an organic turbo generator, all of which have been used for more than 20 years in the absorption refrigeration, geothermal and waste heat recovery power generation fields.
“The REHOS cycle is, thus, based on proven process components. The only novel aspect is the interconnected configuration of these components, which forms a new regenerative, thermodynamic cycle with many highly desirable disruptive attributes.”
Enslin stresses that the scalability of the REHOS cycle and the combination of refrigeration and power generation without the need for external cooling towers are some of the most significant features of this technology. The high heat-to-power conversion efficiency, as well as the flexibility of using different expander and compression equipment and heat exchangers in the REHOS cycle, also enhances its appeal.
This is a renewable power generation technology that uses freely available, globally abundant waste heat at temperatures well below 30 ºC, he says, adding that “the heat-to-electricity conversion efficiency is more than 80%, compared with current waste heat recovery systems for low temperatures, which struggle to maintain conversion efficiencies greater than 5%”.
In addition, Enslin highlights that the technology requires low capital investment and can deliver utility-scale power at less than half the cost of other renewable power generators such as wind and solar. The REHOS cycle is, moreover, a baseload generator, producing dispatchable power with a capacity factor of more than 80%, which compares favourably with other nonfossil baseload generators such as nuclear and hydropower generators.
The REHOS cycle may also be used for heat recovery from existing cooling water systems, effectively doubling existing power stations’ power output – or halving the primary fossil fuel energy consumption – to facilitate the gradual move from fossil combustion to renewables. Smaller REHOS generators can also be hermetically sealed for decentralised power packs for buildings, shopping centres, schools, hospitals and clusters of rural homes.
Enslin highlights that POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa provides an ideal platform for networking with technology suppliers, consultants and end-users to ensure the best possible exposure of this new technology and facilitate its implementation.
“Despite its significant benefits, we expect some scepticism from the market, owing to the novelty of the concept and in lieu of a physically operational power-generation plant. However, we also expect a keen interest from consultants and power generation process suppliers, who will recognise the significant commercial value of the REHOS cycle. We believe that there will be a definite willingness from renewable power generation suppliers to participate in the project’s commercialisation.”
Enslin will present a paper, titled ‘Introducing the novel thermodynamic cycle for the economic power generation from recovered heat pumped from the huge global thermal energy storage reservoir called earth’, during the geothermal session of the Renewable Technologies and Opportunities track of the POWER-GEN & DistribuTECH Africa conference on July 18 at the Sandton Convention Centre in Johannesburg.
... with our Lite Mini, bringing the joys of solar power and LiFePO4 battery technology to the small, off grid and informal house owner...
Freedom Lite Mini – from Freedom Won – offers the same extraordinary LiFePO4 service life and efficiency as the Freedom Lite Home and Business range but with lower cost internal electronics. This means the purchase cost is minimised specifically for entry level UPS and residential energy storage solutions. These models do not communicate with any other device but they do have complete internal cut-out protection and monitoring to prevent damage to the battery. The Mini is available in both 26V and 52V nominal for up to 120A continuous output. The design incorporates handles for easy mobility, feet for placing on the floor, and keyholes on the back for mounting on the wall.
Both models have a 5 year unlimited cycle warranty.
Freedom Won has partnered with Treetops Renewable Energy in Cape Town to pair their Sunplug with the Mini for bringing the joys of solar power and LiFePO4 battery technology to the small, off grid and informal house owner. The Sunplug is an all in one energy management and power distribution wall mount unit that only needs to be plugged into the Mini and some solar panels to provide a complete off grid solution.
The Mini is suited to all 24V and 48V inverters, but would likely find the most favour amongst owners for matching with the inexpensive hybrid inverters like the Axpert range.
The June 2017 suggested retail price excl VAT of the two models is:
Solar solution integrators may contact Freedom Won for trade prices.
Agricultural company Senwes has launched the first silo solar photovoltaic (PV) system in South Africa, at its Hennenman silo, in the Free State.
“Around 1 120 solar panels were installed, with a total capacity of 358 kW. The total projected solar utilisation is 472 460 kWh/y, which constitutes 62% of the total electricity consumption of the Hennenman silo and will result in a significant cost saving,” Senwes CEO Francois Strydom said.
He added that, in line with the company’s sustainability objectives and contribution to reducing the carbon footprint, the solar PV system will save about 1 kg of carbon dioxide (CO2) per kilowatt-hour.
The projected carbon savings will amount to 472.5 t of CO2/y.
The project started in January and was completed in April, when it was integrated into the existing electricity grid.
Ikhwezi Solar, an ISO and SABS accredited manufacturer and supplier of Flat Plate Solar Thermal Panels, is seeking a BEE Partner to further enhance opportunities in the renewable energy sector. Please contact writer at mail address or 043-7018000. firstname.lastname@example.org
One tends to forget the devastating impact Eskom has had on the South African economy. Economic growth was ticking along fairly well in the mid-2000s until electricity compacity constraints in 2007/08 started to strangle expansion. The Zuma years, in many ways, have further led us down the road of recession that we now find ourselves in. But Eskom, which is now reportedly seeking an almost 20% price hike next year, is again grabbing headlines for all the wrong reasons. South Africans, in the load shedding years, already started to distance themselves from Eskom, either by turning to solar or by just refusing to pay tariffs – a situation that has significantly dented municipalities’ budgets. As if the recent drama around Zupta controlled Tegeta and the Life of Brian (Molefe) weren’t enough, one wonders what further damage Eskom will inflict on SA. – Gareth van Zyl
Where there is light, there is life. This remark was made by Sylvia Lucas, premier of the Northern Cape, at the launch of the Olifantshoek Solar Street Light Project on Thursday, 18 May.
Lucas also noted that this project should ensure that there is not only light, but that peole can walk the streets safely.
Residents of Olifantshoek gathered to celebrate the official launch of the project, which is an economic development flagship project of Renewable Energy Investments South Africa (Reisa).
Olifantshoek is the second community to benefit from Reisa’s Solar Street Light programme. Altogether 105 solar street light units, which require almost no maintenance and no running costs, have been installed along Olifantshoek’s busiest roads.
The community of Dibeng was the first beneficiary of the programme in 2015, which included the installation of 52 solar street lights covering over 2 km of road.
The first one was launched in, the Dibeng community in 2015 where the first installation benefitted 52 solar street lights covering over 2km of road.
The initiative aims to improve community safety and security, and the well-being of around 10 253 residents and to take advantage of the environmentally friendly solar-powered technology.
The launch of the project follows a proposal the mayor of the Gamagara Municipality, Dineo Moyo, made in an effort to reduce crime and road accidents, and to better the well-being of the community at large.
“This project has the potential to change the landscape of this town. On a deeper level, it adds to our collective commitment to make this province a safe and prosperous one,” Lucas said at the launch.
Sizile Mabaso, chief community operations officer of Reisa, highlighted that it was Reisa’s deliberate strategy to partner with local authorities and stakeholders to ensure the alignment of REISA’s interventions with local priorities.
This project provides business support and mentorship to local businesses. The company has, through these projects, been able to further develop its trade within the solar industry, in particular solar street lighting.
“Through our Enterprise Development Programme, Reisa’s objective is to facilitate the creation of sustainable economic and job opportunities for the communities of Olifantshoek, Dibeng, Dingleton, Kathu, Babatas and Mapoteng to achieve greater economic independence,” said Mabaso.
Thanking REISA, Lucas expressed her wish for this project and the many others they have already embarked on in the Northern Province, to an extended long and positive relationship.
First NERSA-licensed energy exchange in South Africa signs deal with 4-MW Merino small hydropower project
PowerX, the first licensed energy exchange in South Africa licensed by the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA), announced last week it has entered into an agreement with Bethlehem Hydro, an independent power producer and subsidiary of Renewable Energy Holdings (REH), to purchase the entire output from the 4-MW Merino small hydropower project.
Bethlehem Hydro operates the 7-MW Bethlehem two-facility hydro complex, near Bethlehem, South Africa. The complex comprises two separate generation sites: 3-MW Sol Plaatje and 4-MW Merino, both located on the As River.
NERSA licensed PowerX as a national aggregator of power.
The Merino power plant is located near Clarens, in the Free State province, and has been in operation since 2010. The plant operates as a run-of-river station and its annual output is 25 GWh. The project consists of a diversion weir, an 800-meter long canal and a small forebay. The powerhouse is situated mostly below ground level and houses a single double-regulated horizontal axis Kaplan turbine.
The plant is connected to the national grid by way of a 22-kV line.
According to Anton-Louis Olivier, REH and Bethlehem Hydro chief operating officer, the transaction made commercial sense in the context of the current uncertainty in the power market in South Africa.
“The Merino power plant generates more than 25 GWh of electricity per annum,” Olivier said. “This is enough to power some 4,000 households. Initially, the Merino plant sold its output to Eskom under a short-term supply program. However, early in 2017 Eskom decided to stop purchasing power under this program. Not only was PowerX able to offer us an attractive tariff, but also a long-term contract with the necessary guarantees that such a transaction requires.”
REH is a hydropower developer, owner and operator and is based in Cape Town and is active in South Africa and Zambia.
PowerX is a national aggregator that acts as a conduit between willing buyers and sellers to stimulate the generation of clean power and is based in Johannesburg, according to the company.