R4.3-billion electric car charging station rollout for the Free State

Zero Carbon Charge (ZCC) has announced the rollout of its R4.3 billion electric vehicle (EV) charging station project in the Free State.

The rollout was inaugurated by signing a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Free State provincial government in Bloemfontein.

ZCC previously announced that it started the construction of 240 renewable energy charging stations — 120 for passenger EVs in November 2023 and 120 for electric trucks in April 2024.

This forms part of its attempt to build South Africa’s most significant national network of 100% renewable energy-powered EV charging stations.

The charging stations built within the Free State will comprise 15 passenger EV charging stations and seven electric truck charging stations. They are scheduled to be completed by 2025.

These charging stations will be off the grid and not rely on Eskom, allowing them to continue functioning during load-shedding.

Each station will feature ultra-fast charging technology coupled with modular battery packs being developed in China, with the goal of charging a truck or EV in roughly 20 minutes.

“This cutting-edge technology means that customers at ZCC’s off-grid, solar-powered charging stations will be able to charge any electric vehicle at its maximum charging rate,” ZCC stated previously.

“It is encouraging to see that through Free State’s energy indaba and investment conference, we are attracting private investors that see the potential of the Free State as being an energy hub for the country,” the MEC of Economic and Environmental Affairs, Thabo Meeko said at the launch.

The Free State project will cost R4.3 billion and will create thousands of jobs in the initial phase, according to ZCC.

“Our off-grid electric vehicle (EV) charging network will not only reduce the province’s carbon footprint but also stimulate local economic growth, creating new opportunities for small businesses, communities and farmers,” said ZCC co-founder Joubert Roux.

Landowners will benefit by earning 5% of the revenue generated from the charging stations on their land.

1% of all revenue generated from the project will also be reinvested back into local socio-economic development initiatives.

The charging stations will be located in the following local municipalities:

  • Mohokare
  • Ngwathe
  • Metsimaholo
  • Mafube
  • Tokologo
  • Maluti-a-Phofung
  • Mangaung
  • Dihlabeng
  • Kopanong
  • Phumelela
  • Moqhaka
  • Mantsopa
  • Masilonyana
Zero Carbon Charge station concept

While there are already 400 public and private EV charging stations in South Africa, with another 300 anticipated to come online in the next few years, most of them are connected to Eskom’s grid.

However, ZCC believes the South African government has underestimated how much additional electricity capacity will be required over the next few decades due to the increased adoption of electric vehicles.

ZCC has calculated the theoretical demand that EVs will put Africa’s Africa’s grid over the next few years, using projected EV sales and the distance of 25,000km covered annually by the average motorist.

The assumed average EV energy efficiency was 0.22kWh per kilometre.

It predicted that the electricity demand created by passenger EVs in South Africa will be around 10 Terawatt-hours (TWh) by 2034, whereas the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) predicts less than half that, at around 5TWh.

“In 2050, our projections show that the demand created by passenger EVs will be just over 60TWh, wIRP’sthe IRP’s projection is around 10TWh less, at just over 50TWh,” ZCC said.

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R4.3-billion electric car charging station rollout for the Free State