Images courtesy of Zero Carbon Charge

Zero Carbon Charge To Roll Out Ultra-Fast EV Charging Stations Powered By Large Solar & Battery Storage In South Africa

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The founders of Zero Carbon Charge have been involved in the utility-scale solar sector in South Africa since 2011. Anticipating a surge in electricity demand in the long term due to incremental adoption of electric vehicles in South Africa, they decided to leverage their experience in the utility-scale solar sector to come up with a model for electric vehicle charging that is powered by alternative electricity generation via distributed solar and backed by stationary battery storage. They are also looking to incorporate small hydro power stations where possible to help power these charging stations. Small wind farms are also being considered where feasible.

The Zero Carbon Charge team are using their experience from their utility-scale power projects, gained during their work in South Africa’s REIPP Programme, to unlock efficiencies in their EV charging network in areas such as permitting, environmental feasibility studies, compliance, and land use applications. South Africa’s Renewable Independent Power Producer Programme (REIPPP) is aimed at bringing additional megawatts onto the country’s electricity system through private sector investment in wind, biomass, and small hydro, among others.

Zero Carbon Charge co-founders Andries Malherbe and Joubert Roux have extensive experience in the REIPPP processes. Andries is a co-founder and co-owner of multiple bid-ready wind farms for the next round of the REIPP programme and has also been involved in several large- and small-scale wind and solar developments, in partnership with Joubert, since 2011. Joubert Roux describes himself as a serial entrepreneur with a proven track record in transportation.

Over the last 3 decades, he has built up a network of service stations and car dealerships throughout the Southern, Western, and Northern Cape. Zero Carbon Charge has already leveraged all this knowledge and experience to secure more than 90 sites across South Africa for their charging stations. These sites are now at various stages of the permitting process.

Zero Carbon Charge has  chosen to focus on the non-urban environment. Zero Carbon Charge has a mission to build a national network of green energy powered ultra-fast chargers, approximately 150 km apart, covering all the strategic highways and major routes in South Africa. The national coverage plan looks to cover the entire national highway network (from the N1 highway to the N18) and some other busy routes.

Zero Carbon Charge has 5 sites that are now in the final stages of the permitting process. They are prioritizing sites that already have some sort of convenience offering, such as a convenience store and bathroom facilities, etc. In cases where these amenities are absent, Zero Carbon Charge will build them. Fast Wi-Fi, food, and other convenience offerings will be incorporated at all sites.

One of the main considerations for the Zero Carbon Charge sites is that they generate all their power on site from renewable energy sources and that all the sites can run completely off grid. They therefore look for sites with space to accommodate the solar panels they require to meet their generation target. Additionally, when sites are situated near a river, they are investigating possibilities to harness small-scale hydroelectric power.

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Their sites are designed in a modular manner to scale as the demand for charging grows with the increasing number of electric vehicles on those routes, and in South Africa as a whole. Zero Carbon Charge sites will have ultra-fast chargers. The plan is for each charging station to have enough capacity to charge 5 vehicles simultaneously. When they start their operations, the first stations will have a capacity of 300 kW with the option to be upgraded to 600 kW in future, and build from there as the numbers of electric vehicles in South Africa grow. All sites have the capability to be expanded in a modular fashion, meaning 600 kW, 1.2 MW, and 1.8 MW sites, etc.

Zero Carbon Charge says switching to electric vehicles in South Africa will save money and emissions associated with importing and shipping crude oil from overseas, through substituting it by powering vehicles with locally generated electricity from renewables. Zero Carbon Charge says over the next 10 to 20 years the petrol and diesel retail market in South Africa that is worth R500 billion (US$26 billion) in annual sales will largely be replaced by electric charging businesses.

Images courtesy of Zero Carbon Charge


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Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai

Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has been fascinated with batteries since he was in primary school. As part of his High School Physics class he had to choose an elective course. He picked the renewable energy course and he has been hooked ever since.

Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai has 791 posts and counting. See all posts by Remeredzai Joseph Kuhudzai