Merafong BESS and Associated Infrastructure

NOTICE OF INTENTION TO REGISTER THE PROPOSED MERAFONG BATTERY ENERGY STORAGE SYSTEM (BESS) AND ASSOCIATED INFRASTRUCTURE, IN AREAS OF LOW OR MEDIUM ENVIRONMENTAL SENSITIVITY, IN TERMS OF THE NORM FOR EXCLUSION OF IDENTIFIED ACTIVITIES ASSOCIATED WITH THE REQUIREMENT TO OBTAIN ENVIRONMENTAL AUTHORISATION (G4557 OF 27 March 2024) ON A SITE NEAR CARLETONVILLE, GAUTENG PROVINCE.

NOTICE OF CONSULTATION PROCESS AND AVAILABILITY OF SITE SENSITIVITY VERIFICATION REPORT

Tantalum Renewables (Pty) Ltd proposes the development of the Merafong Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) on a site located ~14km east of the town of Carletonville along the R501 and 14km south-west of the town of Westonaria along the N12 within Merafong Local Municipality, and within the jurisdiction of the West Rand District Municipality, Gauteng Province.

The project will be located on the following farms:

  • Remaining Extent of Portion 10 (a portion of Portion 4) of the farm Driefontein No. 355
  • Remaining Extent of Portion 11 (a portion of Portion 4) of the farm Driefontein No. 355

The general purpose and utilisation of a BESS is to save and store excess electrical output as it is generated.  This allows for a timed release of electricity to the grid when the capacity is required the most and allows for provision of ancillary services to ensure reliable operation of power networks during normal operation and contingency events.  BESS systems therefore provide flexibility and reliability services for the efficient operation of the electricity grid.

The proposed project will include the following infrastructure:

  • A BESS with a capacity of up to 308 MWh, inside containers with a footprint of up to 6ha in extent and a maximum height of 8m. Lithium-Ion BESS technology is being considered for the project.
  • Access roads to the BESS (6m in width, approximately 2000m long) branching from the existing roads, and internal roads to be located within the total BESS footprint area.
  • 33kV MV cabling between the BESS and the MV/HV substation (approximately 1.5ha).
  • Fencing around the BESS for increased security measures.
  • Temporary laydown area to be located within the BESS footprint (approximately 100m x 200m).
  • Firebreak to be located within the BESS footprint.
  • Independent Power Producer (IPP) Substation and Eskom Switching Station with a maximum height of HV bus-bar up to 10 m and an HV Building up to 10 m.

It is the intention of Tantalum Renewables (Pty) Ltd to bid this project to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) under the Battery Energy Storage Independent Power Producers Procurement Programme, or under a similar government or private offtake programme.

Following completion of the specialist studies for the project, it has been determined that the Merafong BESS could be registered in terms of the provisions of GNR4557 of 27 March 2024.  A separate environmental permitting process will be undertaken for the grid connection infrastructure in order to facilitate a separate authorisation and hand-over to Eskom following completion of construction.

NEED AND DESIRABILITY OF THE PROPOSED PROJECT

Energy storage, particularly battery systems, are becoming increasingly significant as a variety of energy sources become more widely available. However, energy output is not always regulated, particularly with base load power producing sources that operate continuously and generate power during low demand periods. Alternatives include non-dispatchable variables. Renewable energy generators, which only generate electricity when resources such as solar or wind are available, enhance the demand for energy storage and regulation. The proposed BESS facility, which is close to the proposed Merafong PV Facility, aligns with national, regional, and local policies and plans because of its proximity and necessity, as detailed below:

  • The need for the country to respond to the international commitments regarding climate change and reduction in carbon emissions.
  • The need at a national level to diversify the power generation technology mix to include up to 14.4 GW of renewables by 2030, as defined in the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), 2019.
  • The need to align development with the requirements of the National Development Plan to address the identified socio-economic issues affecting development in South Africa.
  • The need for sustainable development at a Provincial level, including the need to utilise its extensive resources for the benefits of the local area.
  • The identification of the need for potential IPP projects to become operational in the local municipality as per the Merafong Local Municipality Integrated Development Plan.

Technically, the proposed BESS and associated infrastructure are deemed desirable due to their accessibility, national grid access, minimal environmental impact, and socio-economic upliftment contribution.

  • The proposed project will provide strategic access to the grid via the Midas substation and the 132kV power line.
  • Minimal construction will be required for the power line, which is to be constructed within an existing disturbed area, therefore environmental impacts will be kept to a minimum.
  • There are existing feeder bays at the substation connection point.
  • The broader area of the project site comprises a network of easily accessible roads to the proposed BESS.
  • The BESS will provide support to remove network congestion in the region thereby enabling the installation of additional renewable energy generation in future.
  • The BESS will improve the socio-economic climate of the region as it contributes to a more reliable source of electricity which makes the region attractive to potential investors.

The proposed BESS and related infrastructure, from an environmental sensitivity and planning standpoint, support the municipality’s larger strategic context because they will be a crucial component of the proposed Merafong PV Facility, which is regarded by the West Rand District Municipality’s Integrated Development Plan (IDP) as a driver of regional economic growth.

The project will help realise the objectives of the municipal IDP of the West Rand District and will promote the quality service, and the effective and optimal utilisation of resources.  This project will assist in supporting the local and national electricity supply through its contribution to the National Eskom Grid as a result of the support provided in extending the operational period of the proposed PV facility.  The project will also assist in minor local job creation which will help achieve IDP objectives and boost revenue returns for the local and regional economy.

The project will contribute to the achievement of the West Rand District’s municipal IDP objectives and will assure the community’s quality of life through meaningful and quality service, as well as the effective and optimal use of resources.  This project will help to boost local and national power supply by contributing to the National Eskom Grid as a result of the assistance provided in prolonging the operational duration of the proposed Merafong Solar Photovoltaic (PV) facility.  The initiative will also serve to create minor local jobs, which will help the IDP fulfil its goals and increase financial returns for the local and regional economies.

The proposed project footprint complies with Section 2.1 of the Norm for the Exclusion of Identified Activities Associated with the Development and Expansion of Battery Storage Facilities in Areas of Low or Medium Environmental Sensitivity (GN4557 of 27 March 2024).

SITE SENSITIVITY VERIFICATION REPORT (SSVR) AND ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAMME (EMPR)

A Site Sensitivity Verification Report (SSVR) and Environmental Management Programme (EMPr) have been prepared and will be available for your review and comment as required in terms of Section 5.2.2 of the Battery Storage Facility (BSF) Norm (GNR4557 of 27 March 2024) from Friday, 19 April 2024 until Tuesday, 21 May 2024.  The final day to submit comments is Tuesday, 21 May 2024.  The SSVR and EMPr can be downloaded from Savannah Environmental website at https://savannahsa.com/public-documents/other/merafong-bess-and-associated-infrastructure/. You can also request that an electronic copy of the SSVR and EMPr be sent to you via file transfer services such as WeTransfer or Dropbox.

Please submit your written comments on the BESS Registration by Tuesday, 21 May 2024 via one of the following means:

  • Telephone: 011 656 3237
  • Mobile: 060 978 8396 (including please call me)
  • Fax: 086 684 0547
  • Post: PO Box 148, Sunninghill, 2157
  • E-mail: publicprocess@savannahsa.com

All comments can be addressed to Molatela Ledwaba at Savannah Environmental.

The comments that are received during this consultation process will be documented in the Comments and Response Report and will be submitted with the final Registration form, SSVR and EMPr.

Please do not hesitate to contact us should you require additional information and/or clarification regarding the project.  Our team welcomes your participation and looks forward to your involvement throughout this process.

Molatela Ledwaba of Savannah Environmental
P.O. Box 148, Sunninghill, 2157
Tel: 011 656 3237
Mobile: 060 978 8396
Fax: 086 684 0547
Email: publicprocess@savannahsa.com
Website: www.savannahsa.com

Documents for public review are available for downloadClick here

Alternatively, you can contact the Public Participation team at publicprocess@savannahsa.com to register your interest in the project.

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