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Zero Carbon Charge breaks ground on solar-powered EV charging network

20th November 2023

By: Darren Parker

Creamer Media Contributing Editor Online

     

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Electric vehicle (EV) charging station developer Zero Carbon Charge has broken ground on its first 100% renewable energy charging station in Wolmaransstad, in the North West, in what is to become South Africa’s first national network of 120 solar-powered charging facilities spaced out at 150 km intervals. 

The first Zero Carbon Charge facility at Wolmaransstad is due for completion in June next year and is differentiated from existing EV charging stations that are connected to State-owned Eskom’s predominantly coal-powered grid.  

“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,” Zero Carbon Charge cofounder and codirector Joubert Roux said at the launch event on November 20. 

With sufficient sunshine, each Zero Carbon Charge charging station can generate electricity on site using solar photovoltaic (PV), storing the energy in lithium-ion phosphate batteries.  

The charging stations will also be equipped with generators fuelled by hydrotreated vegetable oil as a back-up power source on cloudy days. 

Hydrotreated vegetable oil is used as it offers a reduction of carbon emissions of up to 90% compared with diesel. 

Zero Carbon Charge cofounder and codirector Andries Malherbe said South Africa needed to prepare for the global transition to EVs. 

“Zero Carbon Charge is forging ahead in preparation for the EV revolution that is coming to these shores. Within five years, we expect EVs 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,” he said. 

Using 720 direct current ultrafast charge points for EVs, plus 240 alternating current (AC) charge points for plug-in hybrids, each Zero Carbon Charge charging station can charge an EV in about 20 minutes.  

By contrast, it takes a standard grid-connected AC charging station about four hours to fully charge an EV. 

It is envisaged that, pending various planning and land use approvals, Zero Carbon Charge will have its full network of solar-powered charging facilities operational by September 2025. 

Speaking at the sodturning ceremony, Maquassi Hills local municipality Mayor Mzwandile Feliti said the municipality was leading the way with the green transport transition, with the first approval for a facility such as this in the country. 

Jan Holiday, the owner of the land on which the site is being built, added that it was a great opportunity for rural landowners to become part of the energy value chain for EVs and to benefit from the surplus energy generated and derive an additional income stream. 

Each Zero Carbon Charge station will include a farmstall so that motorists charging their vehicles can buy refreshments while they wait.  

Zero Carbon Charge’s total investment of R1.8-billion will contribute to providing local jobs and an additional revenue stream for farmers. Landowners will earn 5% of the revenue generated from vehicle-charging on their land, while a percentage of the revenue will also be reinvested in local socioeconomic development initiatives. 

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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