South Africa’s first 1MWh solar battery

At its Summit event held in Johannesburg on 7th September 2023, one of South Africa’s largest technology distributors Rectron announced that an expansion of its partnership with Chinese giant Huawei has aided its efforts into going “off-grid”.

According to Rectron chief product officer Matthew Hall, the distributor will install South Africa’s first 1MWh solar battery at its offices. The technology is courtesy of Huawei, which has joined Rectron’s stable of companies after a few months of negotiations. The battery is set to be installed on Saturday.

“We invested with Huawei. We’ve bought the first 1MW battery in South Africa. We’re going to be putting that in our site. We have about 800 panels on our roof. Inverters. And really going off grid,” he told Hypertext.

“We were on the hunt to see how do we take a business like our business and take it off grid,” Hall told media at the summit. “It’s a whole different kettle of fish. There’s a lot of scope work that you need to do, there’s a lot of project management you need to do. And we found that Huawei was the best partner.”

Last year the two companies signed a deal for Rectron to distribute Huawei FusionSolar Smart PV solutions. At the summit, Hall indicated that Rectron would be driving the commercial renewable energy sector with Huawei.

“All the businesses that need to stay on, all the infrastructure that needs to remain on for businesses to stay relevant is where we are focusing with Huawei,” he explained. Additionally, Rectron is also acting as South African distributor for EcoFlow and most recently Chinese energy firm Sunnew. Meanwhile, the company has jumped into the power space with its in-house brand RCT, which sells inverters and similar devices.

Matthew Hall, chief product officer at Rectron.

The battery itself will be a Huawei FusionSolar Smart String Energy Storage Solution (ESS). This hefty piece of hardware is the size of a shipping container, filled with 63 lithium battery packs that can store solar energy. Each pack has a capacity of 16.13kWh each, with a total capacity of 1MWh.

To compare, a single stage of loadshedding removes around 1 000MW from the entire country’s electricity grid. Rectron’s Huawei ESS will be installed at its main offices in Midrand, Johannesburg.

An artist’s representation of Huawei ESSs. Image sourced from Huawei.

Rectron product manager for power/RCT renewable energy Keegan Beyers told Hypertext that after calculations from the company’s financial officers, Rectron decided that the battery would eventually save enough money to pay for itself. On the topic of how much it actually cost, a Rectron representative told us that the installation itself would be around R2 million.

Loadshedding is still at high levels as of time of writing, and some of the largest companies in South Africa have been forced to invest in equipment and fuel to keep the lights on. Shoprite Group, owners of the Checkers supermarket chain, revealed it spent R1.3 billion in the last financial quarter to stave off the effects of loadshedding.

[Image – Huawei]


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