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UWC and BattCo’s home-grown lithium ion battery

UWC partners with BattCo to bring affordable electricity to the people

Internationally - and certainly in South Africa - there is increasing awareness of the need to look at electrification and its provision differently.

That’s why the University of the Western Cape’s Energy Storage Innovation Lab (ESIL) has successfully partnered with innovative Cape Town-based company BattCo Storage Systems to commercialise a modular Lithium-ion battery.

ESIL’s modular battery system is scalable and (as the name implies) modular, with series and parallel connection capability, and is stackable and easily integrated for a range of applications, including (thus far): golf carts; battery electric vehicles; backup power solutions; off-grid power systems; and grid-connected storage.

Leading on from the development of the battery, BattCo has taken the next step and incorporated this co-developed technology, integrating it into an AC energy storage solution which can be used in a home or a business, or as a backup power source, allowing simple integration of Solar PV panels.

This successful university/industry partnership will not only lead to the commercialisation of these products, but also contribute towards job creation, socio-economic empowerment, renewable energy generation and sustainable rural electrification.

Renewable energy resources such as wind, water or solar solutions have shown that clean energy - energy not dependent on non-renewable fuels such as coal - is not only a viable alternative to traditional power solutions, but also carries additional benefits such as on-the-spot delivery, cutting down significantly on infrastructure costs.

But one problem still remains: no matter the source of generation, once produced, energy needs to be stored efficiently - and in many cases, it cannot be stored efficiently within the existing power generation supply chain.

A viable and cost-effective solution to the energy storage challenge can mitigate the negative effects of power outages, assist in improving national grid stability, and enable South Africa to tap into its vast renewable energy potential - specifically from wind and solar sources.

Adding to the developmental impact of the product is BattCo’s investment in education, specifically at UWC, where their engineers lecture and mentor an exciting course in product development, exposing students to physics and computer science - and also to how these are leveraged to solve real world problems with innovative solutions.

“Universities should promote a healthy balance between academic research outputs and outputs with commercial value which add context to the people we educate,” says Professor Bernard Bladergroen, Director of ESIL.

“For me, a successful UWC-industrial partnership like this, where products developed by UWC are actually put to use in the market, specifically the green energy market, brings great professional satisfaction.”