Energize Necessity for commercial and industrial battery storage solutions
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Necessity for commercial and industrial battery storage solutions

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Information from IM Power  –  

Commercial and industrial battery storage solutions can revolutionise the way an organisation consumes energy. Business energy costs are an ever-increasing frustration and account for a large portion of its bottom line. Investing in the appropriate battery storage solution can save businesses a great deal of money, transforming their energy cost profile and ultimately its profit margin.

Batteries effectively meet the requirements of curtailment reduction or deferral, arbitrage, and backup.

By storing excess generation for use when it is required, batteries provide additional power to meet demand. By displacing “peak” energy consumption they help to avoid peak energy costs. Thus, solar energy can be substituted for grid energy during times of peak demand and, in many cases, peak tariff. This is called energy arbitrage. For instance, charging the battery at R1,00 per kWh during off peak times and subsequently discharging this energy during peak times when energy rates would have been R2,50 per kWh. In this case, one is saving R1,5 per kWh for the energy required to recharge the battery.

Backup means providing electricity when the grid supply is unavailable. This is like mini or micro-grid solutions where the solar PV and battery system operate as a “stand-alone” energy supplier to the off taker. To save costs, these systems are typically only designed to provide power to essential loads such as emergency lighting, security, and servers.

Sizing a battery backup system

The size of the solution is contingent on the number of appliances the business or facility requires during periods when no power is available from the grid.

When determining the energy usage of an entity’s appliances, it remains critical to differentiate essential load items such as lights, security systems, fridge, freezer, TVs and internet routers from heavy load items such as geysers, stoves, aircons, and pumps. By adding together all the essential load items the business requires to operate during a power outage, the peak power requirements can be determined. Based on these figures, the power rating of the battery storage system is identified and installed.

Battery sizing is a balancing act, with organisations requiring generous electrical reserves for power outages. To calculate the battery requirements, one first needs to ascertain how many kilowatt-hours (kWh) the facility requires to store. Battery manufacturers and distributors often have online calculators to assist solar installers and customers simplify the calculation process.

Associated costs

Tesla recently released the new residential Powerwall system. For R166 800, you can get 13,5 kWh of stored energy, delivered at 7 kW peak or 5 kW continuous power, which is roughly in line with approved small scale embedded generation (SSEG) regulations for grid-tied residential solar PV and batteries

13,5 kWh can power a typical 3-bedroom house (drawing 5 kW) for roughly 2 to 3 hours and Tesla have clearly sized this system as backup for load shedding. Larger houses or longer outages may require a second or even third unit, depending on one’s energy needs.

According to the CSIR [1] Eskom had 530 hours of load shedding in 2019. Assuming they all lasted for two hours, that would be 265 instances where the Powerwall could have been used to operate and supply someone’s home with power. That consequently works out to approximately R630 per load shedding event or R315 per hour, which excludes the cost of charging the battery of approximately R20 for a full charge.

However, batteries are not priced to compete with grid-tied energy systems. One pays for the convenience of having power available when the grid fails. Since working from home has become the new normal, there is an ever-increasing need for a consistent supply of electricity at home. When considering battery backups, one must also consider the cost of not being able to work during load shedding hours. A measured commercial decision considers the cost of reduced operational productivity and revenue generation capabilities when electricity is not available. The advantages of having this power available during outages ranges from comforts like making your coffee to running your entire business online.

The same principle applies commercially. However, in this instance, a comparison is drawn between the cost of the battery versus the loss revenue incurred if a battery is not utilised. Tesla has a commercial and industrial (C&I) product called the Powerpack. The smallest system will cost R12 m for 1 MWh (1000 kWh) of stored energy, delivered at 250 kW (for 4 h) or 500 kW (for 2 h) continuous power. This system capacity is purpose-made for use in offices or shopping centres. These businesses must consider the loss of revenue during each of these 265 load shedding events per year for the next ten years. The powerpack would be cost-effective, allowing business as usual, without the maintenance and fuel expenses of a typical backup diesel generator.

Battery storage requires a practical approach which reflects individual business requirements. All commercial or industrial entities must consider the loss of revenue during each load shedding event. Businesses seeking to transform their energy cost profiles should consider investing in an appropriate battery storage solution which would significantly reduce business costs and improve profit margins.


[1] (https://businesstech.co.za/news/energy/367714/south-africas-load-shedding-horror-show-in-3-graphs/),

Contact IM Power, Tel 021 836-4292, info@im-power.co.za



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