Introduction: The Dawn of a New Era in Battery Energy Storage System Management
The Hex BESS Project: A Groundbreaking Initiative
South Africa’s state-owned electricity supplier Eskom’s, announced the Hex BESS project in July 2022. The Hex BESS is Located in Worcester, Western Cape. It’s a direct response to the urgent need for more resilient and sustainable energy solutions in South Africa. The project uses large-scale utility batteries with a total capacity of 1,440MWh per day and a 60MW Photovoltaic (PV) capacity. Specifically designed to store 100MWh of energy, the Hex site can power towns like Mossel Bay or Howick for about five hours.[*]
This initiative forms part of Phase 1 of Eskom’s flagship BESS project, which includes additional storage capacity of 833MWh across eight Eskom Distribution substation sites in various provinces. The project also embraces solar energy by including about 2MW of solar PV capacity.
The Role of VECTO in the Hex BESS Project
A key component of this transformative project is the integration of CT LAB’s VECTO system. Chosen by Hyosung Heavy Industries, the primary project developer, the VECTO 3 Wave Synchronised Edge-computer has been pivotal in revolutionising energy flow management and monitoring within Africa’s largest BESS project.
VECTO 3 aligns seamlessly with the technical, engineering, billing, and certification requirements of the large battery storage controller. This integration is a game-changer, as VECTO 3 consolidates three traditionally separate devices into a single, efficient device, excelling in power quality and grid stability monitoring, billing, compliance management and automation.
Benefits of VECTO in the Hex BESS Project
The VECTO system’s integration has brought several substantial benefits to the Hex BESS project:
- Enhanced Power Quality Monitoring: VECTO provides critical power quality metering necessary for the project. It ensures that the power plant controller receives updated and accurate power readings at high speeds, every 20 milliseconds. This rapid data provision is crucial for the power plant controller to respond effectively to changing grid conditions.
- Billing and Data Processing: The VECTO system meets specific billing requirements for the project. It processes data on the VECTO 3 Wave Synchronised Edge-computer itself, allowing direct reading of billing data via Modbus into the SCADA system. This feature includes cumulative month-to-date reading and the previous month’s billing, crucial for efficient energy management and billing accuracy.
- Integration and Simplification: Initially, the project required three bespoke meters, from different vendors for different functions (PQI, Billing and SCADA integration). However, VECTO’s versatile capabilities allowed it to integrate these functions into one device. This not only reduced costs but also simplified the system’s architecture, making it more efficient and easier to manage.
- Meeting Specific Technical Needs: The VECTO system was adapted to meet the project’s specific technical demands, including rapid data transmission for effective power plant control and adapted billing data processing aligning with the South African timezone and the specific Modbus billing data stream requirements.
The integration of VECTO into Eskom’s Hex BESS project is a testament to the evolving landscape of power grid management and the increasing importance of innovative technology solutions. For power system engineers, renewable energy generation consultants, and grid management professionals, this project stands as a shining example of how advanced technologies like VECTO can profoundly impact Renewable Power Plants (RPPs) grid connection code compliance, electrical grid stability, and efficient power management.
In an era where reliable and sustainable energy solutions are more critical than ever, the Hex BESS project, bolstered by the VECTO system, marks a significant step forward in the journey towards a more resilient and sustainable energy infrastructure.