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New testbed boosts African solutions for sustainable energy storage

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CSIR Researcher and project lead Ranesh Thakoordeen (Left) and CSIR Researcher Sumi Moodaliyar (Right) Image credit: CSIR

New testbed boosts African solutions for sustainable energy storage

A new indoor energy storage testbed at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa, will strengthen Africa’s ability to support local players in the battery value chain, thereby boosting the continent’s capabilities in renewable energy storage.

The collaboration falls within the ambit of an agreement between the CSIR and VITO, the Flemish Institute for Technological Research.

The newly established Indoor Energy Storage Testbed equips the CSIR to test the performance and reliability of lithium-ion batteries, as expressed by their storage capacity, lifecycle, and depth of discharge.

This will help build capacity in the African battery industry, as lower-capacity clients (small and medium-sized enterprises, manufacturers, and importers) will have access to indoor testbed facilities and overall market knowledge can be improved. VITO and the CSIR will focus on energy storage technology innovation and localisation.

Stepping-stone to address intermittency of renewables (New testbed boosts African solutions for sustainable energy storage)

“The facility will provide much-needed testing for the continent. It will be used as a service for technology developers or importers who would like to characterise their technologies for market entry.

“Additionally, it is a stepping-stone towards addressing the intermittency challenge of renewable energy. Many businesses and residential homeowners are turning to solar power and batteries to secure their energy supply.

“But ensuring the quality of such systems is key. The testbed will assist in creating the standards for lithium-ion batteries in South Africa,” says CSIR Energy Storage Testbed Project Leader Renesh Thakoordeen.

According to CSIR CEO Dr Thulani Dlamini the facility brings hope for sustainable energy and a secure energy future. Dr Dlamini expressed appreciation for the level of collaboration and scientific support it has received from the Government of Flanders in Belgium and its research institutions.

“How we store energy is at the heart of the successful use of renewable resources such as solar and wind. A developing country such as South Africa has to think of technologies that offer long-duration storage, have low operational and maintenance requirements and can withstand harsh climatic conditions,” says Dlamini.

Providing a safe operating zone (New testbed boosts African solutions for sustainable energy storage)

The facility is equipped with a high-precision system for battery module and pack tests. It has many channels to test numerous batteries in parallel under dissimilar test cycles. It also has a new-generation temperature chamber to provide data on the operating behaviour of batteries used in harsh climates – which will impact optimal performance.

The harsh temperatures in the Northern Cape, for example, can affect batteries in mine machinery and vehicles. The testbed will provide valuable data on the batteries running these machines, enabling the mine to extend machine battery life and provide a safe operating zone.

VITO Energy Technology Project Manager Carlo Mol says that the energy storage testbed is the first step towards a broader cooperation between CSIR and VITO.

“The CSIR and VITO started their intense cooperation at the end of 2020, thanks to the financial support of the Government of Flanders for the indoor energy storage testbed.

“The project funding enabled us to make investments in high-tech equipment for testing batteries in South Africa and build local capacity beyond this.

“It also gives the CSIR and VITO the opportunity to share knowledge on sustainable energy storage solutions for the benefit of South African stakeholders. We are looking forward to future collaborations as the CSIR and VITO signed a memorandum of understanding in April 2022 to extend their research and innovation cooperation towards a broad range of sustainable technologies,” says Mol.

To learn more about CSIR’s new Indoor Energy Storage Testbed, please see click here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=72e8MzWXPFs&t=160s

New testbed boosts African solutions for sustainable energy storage

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New testbed boosts African solutions for sustainable energy storage



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