Red Sands, Africa’s largest standalone battery energy storage system coming to South Africa

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Red Sands, Africa’s largest standalone battery energy storage system is set for construction in South Africa. It was recently announced that the 153 MW / 612 MWh project was awarded Preferred Bidder status in South Africa’s Energy Storage Capacity Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (ESIPPPP). This announcement was made by Globeleq, the leading independent power company in Africa providing nearly 1,800 MW of energy in South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Cote d’Ivoire, Egypt and Cameroon.

The company owned the Red Sands project through the acquisition of the project’s initial developer African Green Ventures (AGV) from Magnora ASA, a Norwegian renewable energy investment company.  AGV is a Cape Town-based renewable energy project development company that identifies and develops large-scale renewable energy projects. The company has produced and currently manages a project development pipeline of approximately 2GW.

The award of the preferred bidder

The Red Sands project was not initially named as a preferred bidder on November 30 2023, when Gwede Mantashe, the South African Minister for Minerals Resources and Energy announced the first four preferred projects selected following Bid Window One (BW1) of South Africa’s BESIPPPP.

The four projects announced by the minister were the Oasis Aggeneis (77 MW), Oasis Mookodi (77 MW) and Oasis Nieuwehoop (103 MW), bid by EDF Renewables and its partners, and the Scatec-led Mogobe BESS project (103 MW. The four projects, three of which would utilize lithium-ion battery technology, and one lithium-iron-phosphate technology had a combined capacity of 360 MW/1 440 MWh.

Minister Mantashe however mentioned that negotiations were under way with a fifth bidder. The goal was to have the entire 513 MW/2,025 MWh bid under this window assigned to independent power producers across the five Northern Cape substations selected by Eskom. Eskom is a government-owned company and South Africa’s main supplier of electric power producing and distributing almost all of the electricity used in the country.

Fast forward, on March 28 2024, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) announced that negotiations with the fifth bidder had been concluded and that the Red Sands project had been selected as a preferred bidder for development at the fifth substation selected for the ESIPPPP Bid Window 1.

Development and cost of the Red Sands project

The Red Sands project will be built on approximately 5 hectares or 12 acres of land in the Northern Cape region. It will reportedly be connected to the grid through the Eskom Garona substation which will also undergo an upgrade to ensure that the full network support capabilities of the project’s batteries can be utilized.

Globeleq will work on Africa’s largest standalone battery energy storage system closely with leading global battery and balance-of-plant suppliers. According to the company, the project will require an investment of approximately US$300 million and will take 24 months to construct after financial close. The latter is expected to be reached sometime this year (2024).

Upon completion, the Red Sands project will be Globeleq’s first large-scale BESS project in South Africa where the group also owns and operates six solar photovoltaic plants and two wind farms with a total generating capacity of 384 MW.

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