Battery storage and applications for South Africa

August 4th, 2016, Published in Articles: Energize, Articles: EngineerIT, Articles: Vector


Frikkie Marx

Frikkie Marx

The IDC Technologies’ Emergency Power Supplies, Lithium Batteries and Earthing Conference 2016, which was held in Midrand recently, brought industry experts together to share their knowledge in the applications and developments of battery storage and backup systems available today.

Each topic circled back to the domestic viability and applications of battery storage and ultimately less reliance on grid electricity.

The keynote speaker, Frikkie Marx, the managing director of Inopsis Wireless Services, in his paper “Electromagnetic Noise Control in UPSs”, said the function of an uninterruptable power supply (UPS) is to condition power and provide stored energy. A UPS cannot fix infrastructure problems or resolve capacity issues, but its purpose is to provide continuous, transient-free, sinusoidal power. Marx also highlighted that many facilities make no effort to manage their critical power that the UPS is meant to protect.

Electrical engineering specialist and consultant Olaf Bekker took an interactive approach in his alternative energies address. Bekker focused on the pros and cons of the Integrated Resource Plan’s new build options, which include coal, nuclear, hydropower, gas open-cycle gas turbines (OCGT) and combined cycle gas turbines (CCGT), wind power, solar power, biogas, biofuel as well as wave generation. While coal and nuclear are not environmentally friendly and OCGT and CCGT are expensive to run, and storage capabilities of most renewables are still expensive and inadequate, Bekker highlighted that many people opt for alternative energies in order to be independent of the spontaneous unreliability of grid power, rather than aiming to reduce costs, especially in small scale applications.

Other presentations included the criteria for selecting battery systems for solar installations; understanding earth electrodes and resistance measurements in practice; the design and implementation of small backup systems; the purpose of earth leakage units and how they protect people; battery configuration design for small scale solar installations and alternative methods for grid stabilisation; as well as the advantages of lithium ion phosphate batteries.

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