The 11 plants are located near major South African cities including Cape Town, Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban and Port Elizabeth and are operated by a beverage company. The sites host PV systems with 11 MW of generation capacity and are also equipped with diesel generators to ensure continuity of production during load shedding periods or faults in the electricity grid.
“In South Africa, the practice of load shedding is quite frequent, due to both the structural weakness of the grid and the drop in the power delivered by coal plants during the rainy season,” said Fulvio Ferrari, founding partner and application manager at Higeco More.
Due to that situation, many companies have equipped their plants both with PV systems and back-up diesel generators to ensure continuity of production. It is therefore necessary to install an energy management system (EMS) to manage and balance the energy flows in the micro-grid at the production sites.
“Our EMS is able to manage and optimize any micro-grid with utilty scale PV systems, storage batteries, diesel generators and loads,” said Ferrari. The ‘control policy’ of our EMS is flexible and fully configurable by the customer through the web-based interface developed by Higeco More. The main objective of this project was to avoid any feed-in of energy into the grid and to protect diesel generators from damages due to ‘reverse power’ occurrences.”
After the commissioning of the EMS, the production sites have achieved fuel savings of around €300,000 per year. The careful management of the 11 micro-grids has also made it possible to gain a further 10% saving on overall electricity consumption.
“We are very proud of the results achieved in South Africa, where we have several ongoing collaborations,” added Ferrari. “Today, we are focusing on the development of a new EMS for the management of energy storage systems [with more than] 1 MWh capacity.”
Higeco More is a leading company in the supply of advanced monitoring systems, SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition), EMS and power plant controllers in approximately 20 countries. The company is headquartered in Milan and its solutions are currently monitoring and controlling more than 3,000 renewable energy systems for a total power generation capacity of approximately 2 GW worldwide.