One of the requirements in the World Bank financing agreement to fund the construction of Medupi and Kusile was a $245m budget for a battery storage project. In 2023 the state-owned power utility appointed Hyosung Heavy Industries of South Korea and Pinggao Group of China to oversee design and execution of the first of two phases in its inaugural battery energy storage system (Bess) project. The two companies in turn have appointed local service providers for the project.

For the Bess programme, the government has lifted many of the stringent local content requirements that normally apply to state-driven capital projects - such as, for example, the National Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme (REIPPPP).

"The relaxation of the local content requirements opens the door to suppliers from other parts of the world to participate in the Bess projects, thereby increasing the level of competition that local suppliers have to face. As a local manufacturer we understand that we cannot rely on protectionism and need to compete on a global platform and have structured our manufacturing operations and product offerings accordingly," said Steve Jordaan, divisional CEO of Actom Power Transformers.

"The developers, engineering, procurement and construction contractors (EPCs) and client have the benefit of local support for the product over the life of the project when procuring from local manufacturers,” he remarked.

These advantages apply to all the Actom transmission and distribution divisions that have been awarded contracts to manufacture and supply electrical equipment for Bess projects.

Repeat business

In September 2022 Actom was awarded a contract for the manufacture and supply of three 40MVA power transformers required for the 132kV/22kV collector substation that is currently under construction for the 80MW Skaapvlei project in the Western Cape - the biggest of the Bess projects being undertaken by Pinggao in the current phase. The EPC for Skaapvlei is Midrand-based Proconics.

"The transformers for Skaapvlei are repeat designs of units we've previously produced for Eskom. We completed the manufacturing of the three units in record time which have already been delivered thereby meeting the exceptionally short contract period of only seven months," Jordaan commented.

MV Switchgear was awarded contracts in June and July to manufacture and supply medium voltage primary switchgear and ring main units for the collector substations of three Bess projects being developed under Hyosung's overall control.

These are the 40MW Pongola and 8MW Elandskop projects in Kwazulu-Natal as well as the 20MW Hex project in the Western Cape. The EPC for Pongola and Elandskop is Roodepoort-based Tractionel Enterprise, while Besamandla of Cape Town is the EPC for Hex.

"The existing 11kV Hex distribution substation's switchboard, which consists of MV Switchgear's SBV4E gear, is being extended to serve as the collector substation for the Hex project, for which we are contracted to supply and install four more SBV4E indoor panels," said Rhett Kelly, the division's design and development manager.

The primary switchgear for the 22kV Pongola collector substation comprises nine panels of GMAe gas-insulated fixed pattern indoor switchgear from Schneider Electric, an international producer of low and medium voltage equipment with which Actom has a longstanding local value-added reseller (Var) agreement.

Trusted equipment

For the 11kV Elandskop collector substation, the division will supply a four-panel air-insulated withdrawable pattern indoor AMV12 switchboard. Both the GMAe and AMV12 switchgear product ranges were previously successfully evaluated by Eskom Distribution as part of the national enquiry CORP2826 - following which Actom was awarded national contracts.

The firm's popular gas-insulated RMV ring main units are to be deployed in all three of the abovementioned Bess projects. These comprise six 11kV units for Hex, three 11kV units for Elandskop and twelve 22kV units for Pongola.

“For all three projects we are required to provide custom-designed internal arc classified enclosures to house the various combinations of extensible and non-extensible RMV ring main units, each with a separate low voltage auxiliary compartment to house the protection relays and the supervisory controls and data acquisition (Scada) equipment,” said Kelly.

High Voltage Equipment has been awarded contracts for the supply of various substation equipment for Hyosung's 40MW Pongola, 8MW Elandskop and 20MW Hex projects as well as Pinggao's 80MW Skaapvlei and 10MW Paleisheuwel projects in the Western Cape.

The equipment to be supplied by the division for these five projects comprise of disconnectors, voltage and current transformers, circuit breakers and surge arresters ranging from 6,6kV to 132kV.




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