South Africa’s first Eskom-free electric car charging station launching soon

Zero Carbon Charge is set to complete South Africa’s first fully off-grid electric vehicle (EV) charging station by June 2024.

That is according to comment from the company’s co-founder and director, Andries Malherbe, in an interview with Sunday newspaper Rapport.

Zero Carbon Charge started constructing its first EV charging site on the N12 between Klerksdorp and Wolmaranstad on 20 November 2023.

Malherbe said the site was chosen as their first because the Maquassi Hills Local Municipality was very optimistic about its potential.

Zero Carbon Charge’s other co-founder and director, Joubert Roux, previously told MyBroadband that the company aimed to complete 120 such charging stations by September 2025.

Each site will have a charging station, a farm stall, a parking area, restroom facilities and a botanical garden.

This will make them suitable for stopovers by non-EV owners who just want to take a break from their road trip.

EV owners can also get a meal or drink a coffee while waiting for their car to charge.

Render showing example of one of the stations.

What makes Zero Carbon Charge’s stations different from the existing 400 or so EV charging stations in South Africa is that they will be fully powered by solar and batteries separate from Eskom’s grid.

Each site will feature a large solar plant consisting of numerous PV solar panels and lithium iron phosphate batteries.

If solar or battery power is unavailable, the stations will draw from generators fuel with hydrotreated vegetable oil.

According to Zero Carbon Charge, this type of fuel emits 90% less carbon than diesel.

Aside from using energy generated from clean sources instead of the coal primarily used by Eskom, EV drivers can rest assured that they will not arrive at a station impacted by load-shedding.

The map below shows the planned locations for Zero Carbon Charge’s stations, most of which will be located on popular routes between South Africa’s largest cities and towns.

Zero Carbon Charge is planning for its stations to consist of 720 DC “ultra-fast” chargers and 240 AC chargers for slower charging of plug-in hybrids.

Although it does not describe the exact charging speed of the DC charging stations, the company has stated it regards 100kW as “ultra-fast” on other parts of its website.

The company said its DC chargers will be able to charge EVs in 20 minutes.

Zero Carbon Charge is working with partners, including land and farm stall owners, to secure sites and funding for the rollout.

It has estimated the total cost of the first phase of its rollout will be R1.8 billion.

The company had already signed up hundreds of thousands of hectares in the Northern Cape and Western Cape by 2022.

Landowners will get 5% of the revenue generated by a charging point, while some revenue will be reinvested in local socio-economic development initiatives.

Malherbe told Rapport that each station is expected to generate between 100 and 200 jobs.

The company plans to build a network of off-grid charging stations specifically for electric trucks in the second phase of its rollout.

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South Africa’s first Eskom-free electric car charging station launching soon