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Renewable Grid Integration Driving Power Storage Market in Sub-Saharan Africa

Remote power systems and mobile connectivity will drive the uptake of battery energy storage systems

The drive to integrate renewable energy into the grid while at the same time supply constant, reliable power for industry activities is one of the key factors driving the power storage market in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Similarly, more residential consumers and rural communities are relying on renewable technologies to meet their daily power requirements. While demand for diesel generators is decreasing, the development of remote power systems and microgrids is driving the uptake of battery energy storage systems.

Frost & Sullivan's new analysis, Future and Impact of Power Storage in Sub-Saharan Africa, 2017, provides an assessment of the current state of battery storage technology in SSA. It reviews the various system applications across residential, commercial, industrial, and off-grid consumer categories with a focus on the medium- to long-term impact of battery technology. Case studies on the choice of system, associated configuration, and applications sought by consumers are also provided.

"The adoption of large-scale, grid-tied storage systems is riddled by high initial investment, which utilities might not commit to in the short term. However, with declining technology costs and increasing renewable energy penetration, battery storage systems will become imperative for grid operators," said Frost & Sullivan energy storage industry analyst Neeraj Sanjay Mense. "Initially, the focus should be on providing small-scale systems that meet the needs of communities and institutions situated away from the grid."

Some of the growth opportunities identified in SSA's power storage market include:

  • Microgrids are playing a major role in developing rural electrification as regulators make it easy for penetration. This will also be accelerated as more private companies enter into the field, generating storage technologies that improve the commercial viability of projects;
  • Large-scale penetration of RE in East and South Africa is creating new markets for power storage;
  • The Electrification of remote locations due to a growing need for mobile and data connectivity;
  • Partnerships between renewable project developers and diesel generator suppliers will be a critical contributor to growth. Diesel generators will continue to provide backup power for most off-grid solutions that employ RE and storage.

"The development of mini-grids is one of the key drivers for the adoption of battery storage systems in SSA. This does, however, present its own set of challenges," noted Mense. "To make mini-grids truly successful, they have to be backed by adequate power storage capabilities. Only then can the targets of universal access and electrification be achieved. Battery storage is still an expensive proposition that adds an incremental cost to the development of mini-grids."

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