Huawei FusionSolar smart photovoltaic (PV) and energy storage system (ESS) solutions are an ideal option for power hungry sub-Saharan African mining operations looking to prevent production losses owing to energy disruptions. “Whether used as back-up power or an off-grid solution, in terms of cost per kilowatt-hour, the combination of PV and battery storage outperforms diesel-driven generators used to supplement energy needs in the mining industry, and eliminates the impact of increasingly common diesel supply constraints and price hikes on profitability,” says Gregor Küpper, managing director of SOLARWORLD Africa.
When it comes to costs, FusionSolar ESS solution is very competitive, especially when considering the rising price of grid-based power, with struggling national power utility Eskom planning to apply for a 32% tariff increase from April 2023/24 as it battles loadshedding.
Küpper shares: “The FusionSolar product range offers the best containerised solution for utility-scale storage that I’ve seen up to now on the market. Not only is the range reliable and easy to implement, but it also offers attractive efficiencies. The product concept, availability and technical features are brilliant.” SOLARWORLD became the first to introduce FusionSolar Smart PV solutions in South Africa in 2014 after being presented with FusionSolar Smart PV solutions at solar industry exhibition InterSolar Europe in Munich in 2014.
Today, SOLARWORLD offers Huawei FusionSolar Smart PV solutions such as the LUNA2000 smart string ESS. Equipped with lithium-ion batteries, the LUNA2000 is a compact, space-optimised solution in a 20-foot container that provides 2 MWh storage capacity. Generation capability can be increased in 200 kW increments following a minimum 1 MW installed capacity, offering the same energy storage capacity as the 40-foot containerised solution supplied by its competitors. FusionSolar regional manager, Quintin Zeeman, says: “While reducing the cost of performing general maintenance, this feature also saves the cost of having a technician travel to site to conduct that maintenance.” He further emphasises that by optimising its AI (artificial intelligence) technology, Huawei aims to eliminate unnecessary costs for its partners. “SOLARWORLD just made the latest version available. We went from a 0.5C battery C-rate, which is equal to a 120-minute charge and discharge rate, to a 1C battery C-rate, which is equal to 60 minutes. Many projects that are under development are now reconsidering the use of 1C-rated batteries,” says Küpper.
To ensure the longevity of its batteries, the LUNA2000 employs a temperature controlled environment to prevent battery degradation when operating in hot operating conditions, which are synonymous with Africa. It is also designed to ensure that the entire capacity of the 2 MWh storage container is not lost while a battery pack is being replaced.
Küpper adds that another important aspect to consider when investing in an ESS is whether the inverter, battery and management system come from the same source. Performance issues with small- and large-scale storage systems always arise when combining products from different brands, even when manufacturers guarantee that they are compatible with other solutions and their protocols.
Equipped with artificial intelligence, FusionSolar’s utility-scale, commercial and residential solutions offer significantly reduced operation and maintenance (O&M) costs, especially where projects are located in remote locations. Using cloud-based monitoring software, users can check the status of battery cells to identify problems remotely and reduce on-site working hours by conducting automatic calibrations.
Zeeman explains that, in terms of energy storage, a traditional battery ESS 100 MW system with 50 battery systems may require up to 300 man-days to be dedicated to manual battery pack calibrations across the plant. Huawei completely eliminates the need for manual calibration through pack optimisers to achieve automatic state-of-charge calibration without shutting down the system to do so. “It’s all about cost effectiveness. Deploying teams to conduct O&M on site, especially at remote sites, is challenging as there is a certain period in which you need to react to faults,” Zeeman explains.
While reducing the cost of performing general maintenance, this feature also saves the cost of having a technician travel to site to conduct that maintenance,” he states, emphasising that by optimising its AI technology, Huawei aims to eliminate unnecessary costs for its partners.