Bushveld Minerals (LON:BMN) is to expand vanadium battery development in South Africa to a 1Mw mini-grid that will supply its nearby Vametco mine.
The mini-grid will combine 1Mwh of solar photovoltaic generation and 4Mwh energy storage using vanadium redox battery (VRFB) technology and supply power directly into Vametco’s internal distribution network.
Bushveld has also started to process vanadium for use as an electrolyte in the batteries.
Subsidiary Bushveld Energy has also just successfully completed a pilot with South African electricity group Eskom for a redox battery system.
The capacity of the battery is now being expanded to 450kWh thanks to an upgrade from its manufacturer, US firm Unienergy.
Easing power shortages
Eskom alone is expected to install 1.4bnMwh of battery storage capacity by 2022 to help ease the problem of power shortages in South Africa, while a further 1bnMwh of opportunities have been identified across Africa.
Mikhail Nikomarov, Bushveld Energy’s chief executive, said that having completed the first battery storage project with Eskom, it is ready for the more complex solar/VFRB hybrid.
"The mini-grid project will demonstrate both the superior technical merits of long duration VRFB systems when paired with renewable energy while providing a commercial return to its investors.
"More urgently, with the current load shedding [black and brown-outs] in South Africa, this project is a first step in mitigating the single greatest risk to production faced by the mining sector."
Bushveld added that the mini-grid will supply at most 8% of the mine's energy consumption at any one time.