In an effort to highlight how standards support safe and reliable deployment of energy storage systems (ESS) in the Southern Africa region, the U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) recently hosted a virtual workshop. The event was organized by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) as part of the USTDA-funded U.S.-Africa Clean Energy Standards Program (CESP) on October 20-21.
The "Southern Africa Energy Storage Standards" workshop attracted more than 100 participants from the across the U.S. and Southern Africa, and provided participants with a thorough background in ESS development in the region, standards that support these technologies, and case studies detailing the direct and indirect benefits of various storage technologies. The workshop fostered discussions on cross-cutting issues and opportunities for U.S. cooperation across the region.
Speakers included 15 experts from the U.S. and Southern Africa, including representatives from 14 U.S.-based organizations: Eaton, Fluence, General Electric (GE), National Electric Manufacturing Association (NEMA), Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Power Africa, Sandia National Laboratory, SimpliPhi, Southern Africa Energy Program (SAEP), the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. EXIM Bank, Urbanable Greenvations, UL, and Xcel Energy.
ESS are emerging as central features of electrical infrastructure as global economies transition away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy systems. ESS are an essential tool for decentralized energy systems of all sizes. They play a critical role when integrated in a system-relevant and cost-effective manner. These benefits have the potential to substantially improve both on- and off-grid efficiency and reliability.
Energy demand in Southern Africa is projected to increase rapidly in the coming years. By 2040, the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP) is expected to have an electricity demand of 575 TeraWatt Hour(s) (TWh). This is a more than 110% increase in demand as compared to 2015, with South Africa making up about half of this market. In the SAPP master plan, renewable energy sources are expected to increase to 41% of total generation capacity by 2040, with a separate scenario featuring higher renewable penetration of 54%. Since 2015, countries across Southern and Eastern Africa have added roughly 40 gigawatts (GW) of renewable energy capacity. However, the variable nature of renewable energy sources can create a wide array of challenges including mismatches between energy supply and demand as well as energy frequency fluctuations. For example, South Africa, which is the predominant power producer in the region, deals with frequent blackouts and brownouts and is often forced to limit energy exports to its neighbors located across Southern Africa. These bottlenecks in the SAPP central corridor constrain regional energy trade and decrease reliable energy access. Energy storage technologies, when supported by international standards and good regulatory practices, help to alleviate energy load constraints by creating space for renewable energy diversification and ensuring more consistent energy flows that help distributors balance renewable energy inputs into central energy grids.
Energy storage allows distributors to provide power when it is needed, rather than when it is best generated. If deployed effectively, energy storage can make off-grid energy a reliable and cost-effective option for millions across Southern Africa. In addition, if integrated into Southern African electricity grids, energy storage will help the continent integrate more renewable energy into its grid supply, improve the reliability of the current electrical supply, and defer significant investments from generation to new transmission and distribution capacity.
The event was the 10th workshop coordinated by ANSI under the USTDA-funded U.S.-Africa CESP. Past CESP workshops focused on electrical safety, mini-grids, grid interoperability, and energy storage.
The CESP provides a platform for industry and government representatives from the U.S. and Sub-Saharan Africa to cooperate on standardization issues relevant to clean energy technologies and build the relationships necessary for further technical exchange. CESP also supports Power Africa’s objectives, helping to create an enabling environment and increase the capacity of governments and private sector entities to increase both on-grid and off-grid energy access.
Organizations interested in co-sponsoring a CESP workshop are invited to complete the commercial benefit questionnaire here for review and approval by USTDA.
For more information on the U.S.-Africa CESP and the “Energy Storage Standards, Conformance and Technology” workshop, including access to the presentations, agenda, photos, and flyer, please visit www.standardsportal.org/us-africacesp.