As EVs (electric vehicles) begin to slowly pad out South Africa’s roads, so do the charging stations that go with them. It’s all well and good to drive a car that isn’t actively killing the planet, but when the source of that power is Eskom, how much of a difference is it really making? Not much, apparently. What if there was a charging station that was completely off the grid, out of Eskom’s clutches? Well, that’s exactly what Zero Carbon Charge is trying to build.
Zero Carbon Charge (ZCC), an EV charging station contractor in Vredendal, recently announced that it would be developing a network of charging stations that are self-sustainable. That’s the idea, anyway. That means no help from Eskom, with ZCC relying solely on South Africa’s “abundant and renewable supply of sunshine.”
Zero Carbon Charge breaks new ground (literally)
These aren’t empty promises either. As of this morning, Monday, 20 November 2023, ZCC has officially broken ground for the first charging station – based in Wolmaransstad – in its planned 120-strong network of EV chargers, dotted out at 150km intervals.
“We are thrilled to begin construction of the first 100% renewable energy charging facility in Wolmaransstad today. It is great news for the environment, and it is great news for motorists who won’t have to worry about loadshedding preventing them from charging their vehicles,” said Joubert Roux, Co-Director and founder of Zero Carbon Charge.
As we’ve mentioned, ZCC’s efforts are backed purely by solar energy and, according to the company, a R1.8 billion investment into the venture. Any energy generated through the solar PV setup will then be stored in lithium-iron phosphate batteries. If those go, each station is equipped with backup generators – fuelled by hydrotreated vegetable oil. It’s not exactly green but does offer a 90% reduction in carbon emissions compared to traditional diesel.
Speedier than most
You can expect a full charge in a somewhat speedy fashion, too. ZCC’s stations will be using “720 DC ultra-fast charge points for EVs, plus 240 AC charge points for plug-in hybrids, each Zero Carbon Charge station can charge an EV in about 20 minutes.” Their words, not ours. We’ll let you know if we ever head to the North West and give it a whirl.
Unfortunately, that won’t be possible until at least June of 2024, if ZCC follows through with its plans. Expect to wait a little longer for ZCC to complete construction on all 120 charging stations, which are currently scheduled to open their doors by September 2025.
According to ZCC’s other co-founder and director, Andries Malherbe, South Africa must prepare itself for the EV boom that’s expected to take place over the coming years. “Zero Carbon Charge is forging ahead in preparation for the EV revolution that is coming to these shores. Within five years, we expect electric vehicles to account for 25% of all new car sales in South Africa. Our network of 100% renewable charging stations will offer consumers a clean and fast way of charging their vehicles.”