Actom wins battery energy storage system supply contracts

17 Jul 2023

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

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Electrical equipment and services company Actom has been awarded contracts to supply battery energy storage systems (BESSs) for two international electrical companies appointed to design, execute and manage the first phase of State-owned Eskom's two-phase programme, launched earlier this year.

Actom's Power Transformers, Medium-Voltage (MV) Switchgear and High-Voltage Equipment and Distribution Transformers divisions were awarded various contracts for South Korean industrial equipment company Hyosung Heavy Industries and Chinese electrical equipment and switchgear company Pinggao Group.

The BESS projects comprise the initial phase, which Eskom characterises as the proof of concept phase.

In September last year, Actom Power Transformers was awarded a contract for the manufacture and supply of three 40 MVA power transformers required for the 132 kV or 22 kV collector substation that is currently under construction for the 80 MW Skaapvlei project in the Western Cape, which is the biggest of the BESS projects being undertaken by Pinggao in the first phase.

The engineering, procurement and construction contractor for Skaapvlei is Midrand-based Proconics.

“The transformers for Skaapvlei are repeat designs of units we've previously produced for Eskom. We completed the manufacturing of the 3 units in record time, which have already been delivered, thereby meeting the exceptionally short contract period of only seven months,” says Actom Power Transformers divisional CEO Steve Jordaan.

Further, Actom MV Switchgear was awarded contracts in June and July to manufacture and supply MV primary switchgear and ring main units for the collector substations of three BESS projects being developed under Hyosung's overall control.

The projects are the 40 MW Pongola and 8 MW Elandskop projects in KwaZulu-Natal, as well as the 20 MW Hex project in the Western Cape. The engineering, procurement and construction company for Pongola and Elandskop is Roodepoort-based Tractionel Enterprise, while for Hex it is Besamandla of Cape Town.

“The existing 11 kV Hex distribution substation's switchboard, which consists of Actom MV Switchgear's SBV4E gear, is being extended to serve as the collector substation for the Hex project, for which we are contracted to supply and install four more SBV4E indoor panels," says Actom MV Switchgear design and development manager Rhett Kelly.

The primary switchgear to be supplied by MV Switchgear for the 22 kV Pongola collector substation comprises nine panels of GMAe gas-insulated fixed pattern indoor switchgear from electrical equipment company Schneider Electric, with which Actom has a longstanding local value-added reseller agreement.

Further, for the 11 kV Elandskop collector substation, the Actom MV Switchgear will supply a four-panel air-insulated withdrawable pattern indoor AMV12 switchboard. The GMAe and AMV12 switchgear product ranges were previously successfully evaluated by Eskom Distribution as part of the national enquiry CORP2826, following which Actom MV Switchgear was awarded national contracts, he says.

Additionally, MV Switchgear's gas-insulated RMV ring main units are to be deployed in all three of these BESS projects, comprising of six 11 kV units for Hex, three 11 kV units for Elandskop and twelve 22 kV units for Pongola.

“For all three projects, we are required to provide custom-designed internal arc classified enclosures to house the various combinations of extensible and non-extensible RMV ring main units, each with a separate low voltage auxiliary compartment to house the protection relays and the supervisory controls and data acquisition equipment,” says Kelly.

Meanwhile, Actom High-Voltage Equipment has been awarded contracts for the supply of various substation equipment for Hyosung's 40 MW Pongola, 8 MW Elandskop and 20 MW Hex projects as well as Pinggao's 80 MW Skaapvlei and 10 MW Paleisheuwel projects in the Western Cape.

The equipment to be supplied by the division for these five projects comprises of disconnectors, voltage and current transformers, circuit breakers and surge arresters ranging from 6.6 kV to 132 kV.

Actom Distribution Transformers was contracted in June 2022 by Besamandla to supply 11 kV, 360 A, 400 V neutral earthing resistors, compensators and compensators with auxiliary transformers for the project's collector substation. These units were scheduled for delivery in February.

For the Eskom BESS programme, government has lifted many of the stringent local content requirements that normally apply to State-driven capital projects, such as for the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme.

“The relaxation of the local content requirements opens the door to suppliers from other parts of the world to participate in the BESS projects, thereby increasing the level of competition that local suppliers have to face.

“As a local manufacturer, we understand that we cannot rely on protectionism and need to compete on a global platform and have structured our manufacturing operations and product offerings accordingly,” Jordaan says.

“The developers, engineering, procurement and construction companies and, ultimately, the client have the benefit of local support for the product over the life of the project when procuring from local manufacturers,” he adds.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online