BESS to reduce major renewable energy expansion challenges

Otis Daniels_Finck
A bilateral cooperation agreement between the Republic of Namibia and the Federal Republic of Germany through the KfW Development Bank has yielded a grant of €20 million towards the implementation of the first ever utility scale Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) in Namibia and the Southern African region at large.

The grant will go towards the construction of a 58 MW BESS Plant that will be situated at the Omburu Substation, located 12km south-east of Omaruru in the Erongo region. As part of the agreement, NamPower has committed to contribute approximately 20% of the total project costs, to be used for the construction of the Transmission interconnection as well as for the local taxes and duties (which are not included in the grant funds).

Once commissioned, NamPower will be able to utilise a combination of various applications which were identified for the Omburu BESS, namely peak shifting, energy arbitrage, provision of emergency energy, ramp-rate control and reactive power control. This BESS will provide the largest battery energy storage capacity in the region (58MW/72 MWh).

The BESS will take on three major tasks that are related to the challenges of a Renewable Energy (RE) expansion. It will enable electricity from RE generation as well as cheaper electricity imports from the Southern African Power Pool (SAPP) to be stored in the BESS which can be used to supply customers during peak times and would offset fossil energy from the aging local Van Eck coal power plant. The electricity grid in Namibia will be stabilized as short and medium-term power fluctuations from RE generation can be load-followed by the storage system.

Given the planned growth of RE, this will ensure a stable power supply in the long term and create good production conditions for future growth and economic development. The battery storage enables Namibia to expand its participation in electricity trade within the 12 member states of the South African Power Pool (SAPP) in a more balanced way. With electricity trading in the SAPP gradually displacing predominantly fossil-fuel generated electricity, a contribution will be made to the regional climate change protection. The BESS Project also fits perfectly in line with Namibia’s national climate change targets specified in the Harambee Prosperity Plan, the National Integrated Resource Plan (NIRP) and the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), which explicitly mentions battery storage solutions as a means to improve flexibility and stability of the transmission grid as a condition for continued RE expansion.

The improvement of grid conditions will thus allow the country to invite new investors for RE projects in the future. Thus, the implementation of the BESS project will have a positive impact on the investment climate for Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and contribute to creating new income and employment opportunities.

The Managing Director of NamPower, Kahenge S Haulofu said that the BESS Project will contribute towards achieving the National Energy Policy target of 80% of the energy requirements from local sources by 2023, the Renewable Energy Policy target of 70% by 2030, and will assist in the overall reduction in the cost of energy to the customer.