Solar micro-grid with 1 MW/4 MWh of vanadium redox flow storage in South Africa


Abengoa will deploy a 3.5 MW solar micro-grid linked to a 1 MW/4 MWh vanadium redox flow storage unit at Vametco Alloys mine, a vanadium mine owned by South African vanadium producer Bushveld Minerals in North West, an inland South African province that borders Botswana.

The storage system will be provided by Austria-based storage specialist Enerox Holdings Limited, which is a unit of Bushveld Minerals. “This project is part of Bushveld's strategy to improve the stable supply of energy in the African continent, as well as to develop and promote the role of vanadium in the growing global market for energy storage through vanadium redox flow batteries, considered a general trend in long-term storage,” Abengoa said in a statement.

The project, according to the Spanish developer, is the world's largest hybrid solar plant incorporating vanadium redox flow storage.

“The hybrid mini-grid project will supply just under 10% of Vametco's electrical energy consumption at any one time and will demonstrate the technical and commercial capability of hybrid mini-grids using solar PV and VRFB technology,” Bushveld Minerals stated in a separate statement. “Technically, the system will be able to operate independently or jointly, either as standalone systems or as a fully functional mini-grid installation.”

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Bushveld Minerals added that the project was structured as a separately funded independent power producer that will sell the electrical energy to the mine, and that it is aimed at reducing the mine's reliance on troubled South African utility Eskom. As a result, the Vametco hybrid mini-grid project installation will be one of the first solar generation projects with long-duration storage to be financed, off-balance sheet, in Africa.

According to the mining company, Enerox has installed more than 136 vanadium redox flow batteries and 23 MWh of energy storage capacity to date.

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