South Africa’s clean energy fund, which sits at around $500 million through a partnership between the World Bank, the African Development Bank and the country’s government, has been boosted with funding from the UK and US.
The US Trade and Development Agency announced on August 22 it had awarded a grant for a vanadium redox flow battery pilot project to South African energy storage solutions company Bushveld Energy, a subsidiary of Bushveld Minerals.
The pilot project will use technology from US firm UniEnergy Technologies to demonstrate how flow batteries can replace fossil fuels for peaking power, integrate renewable generated power and improve the operating efficiency of existing base load plants.
The $500,000 grant will include additional funding from Bushveld Energy and contractor for the pilot UniEnergy Technologies.
The funds will be paid to the contractor based on milestone deliverables for the pilot.
Jacob Flewelling, sub-Saharan Africa regional manager at USTDA, told ESJ: “This is the first time USTDA has backed a vanadium redox flow battery project.
“USTDA responds to demand from US industry and host country project sponsors. The type of battery was selected by the grantee rather than the agency.”
The agency’s grant funding aims to promote further post-pilot sales in South Africa and beyond by US technology providers, such as UniEnergy Technologies, which was selected by the grantee.
Mikhail Nikomarov, CEO of Bushveld Energy, said: “The VRFB will provide data and build the capabilities of our team in deploying these batteries not just with Eskom [South African utility] but also municipal power systems in South Africa and across the continent.”
Jessye Lapenn, Chargé d’Affaires at the US Mission in South Africa, signed the grant on behalf of USTDA along with Nikomarov at a ceremony at the US Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa.
The agency is also supporting US a zinc bromide flow battery firm Primus Power on projects in South Africa and Kenya, and fellow iron flow battery north American company ESS Inc. on a solar PV and energy storage pilot project in Brazil.
UK funding commitment
Meanwhile, the UK prime minister Theresa May announced on August 29 that £56 million ($72 million) was being made available to South Africa to fast-track the region’s access to clean energy.
Despite the Conservative government ending feed-in and export tariffs for solar generation in the UK next April, the PM found cash to deepen the UK’s business, trading, diplomatic and research partnerships with South Africa.
The contribution will be made through the Clean Technology Fund as part of the fund’s $500 million investment in battery storage.
The Clean Technology Fund is part of the Climate Investment Fund that includes the Strategic Climate Fund. The UK has paid in £2 billion, making it the largest contributor to the CIF.
Pic: Jessye Lapenn, Chargé d’Affaires at the US Mission in South Africa, signed the grant on behalf of USTDA, with Mikhail Nikomarov, CEO of Bushveld Energy