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Calling all farmers: Become part of an E-vehicle charging station rollout!

Words: René Lötter Photography: Supplied

Even those of us very sceptical about e-vehicles have realised there is no U-turn. Fuel-driven vehicles are on their way out faster than Kyalami’s F1 pipe dream.

E-vehicles are no longer an experimental fun car for those who can afford it. And it is not only ecological incentives that are turning the tide – it’s the fuel price that’s accelerating the drive to greener fuel and energy.

Karooroos is an ideal halfway stop for travellers between PE and Gauteng. Keep it in mind next time you’re travelling along the N10.

Even at the current prices, electric vehicles are already at a point where total cost of ownership over the lifetime of the vehicle have reached parity with internal combustion vehicles. The reason most ordinary people are still hesitant to make the jump is psychological – uncertainty about driving range anxiety. How far can you go on a full battery? How far exactly is an “electric mile”?

And where do you find recharging stations? Most of all; what about ESKOM? It doesn’t make sense buying an e-vehicle that depends on our unreliable (mainly coal-driven) national power provider.

In steps the company, Zero Carbon Charge (ZeroCC).

“We believe there could be as many as 1.5 to 2 million passenger EVs on SA roads by 2032, should a visible, extensive, and tangible fast charging infrastructure be in place.”

CALLING FARMERS AND FARM STALL OWNERS

ZeroCC are looking for farmers or landowners with a registered roadway off highways. The company explains the detail of their business opportunity and how you can register at this link https://zerocarboncharge.co.za/opportunity/

“We are rolling out a national charging network for electric vehicles. But what makes us unique is the fact that we are using renewable energy only and as far as we know we are the only network with this approach. We need space for solar panels and the farm stalls along highways are perfect partners in this regard. 

“Using self-sufficient and sustainable micro grids to power our charging network, ZeroCC will provide EV drivers with reliable ultra-fast charging at 150km intervals on all the main routes – independent of Eskom’s electricity grid.’’ 

DASSIESFONTEIN TO KALBAS: EXPECTED TIME AND PLACE?

The network will launch with 120 charging stations at destinations like farm stalls and guest farms across the country. “We have visited 200+ possible destinations and identified the most viable sites. Most of them, at conveniently situated established small businesses like farm stalls, hotels, and restaurants along main routes where no existing convenience offering exist, we will establish a farm stall with the landlord or a third party to provide a safe, convenient and remarkable environment to spend the 20 to 45 minutes it takes to charge a car from 20 to 80%.” 

A planned E-vehicle charging station at Dassiesfontein Farm Stall on the N2 between Caledon and Grabouw.

The distributed participating landowners gets to share in the long term energy transition in transport. 

ZeroCC says they have engaged with the landowners and have environmental assessments and applications in process in all 9 provinces.

“We plan to start with construction early 2023 and will continue the roll out in 2023 and 2024. Phase 1 will include: 
● 120 charging stations 
● about 150km apart 
● on national and regional highways 
● with ultra-fast chargers 
● powered by renewable energy 

WE ASKED JOUBERT ROUX FROM ZEROCC THE FOLLOWING:

How does ZeroCC expect to generate income from the venture. Will vehicles have to pay? 
Yes, it is a retail electricity vendor and on average it will cost about 60% of a similar amount of energy in diesel or petrol.

Will the stations have adaptors for each type of vehicle? Apparently, some vehicles have different plugs than others. 
Fortunately the plugs have been standardised and only one type of plug will be allowed and needed in South Africa. 

Are there reliable Apps that will show the location of working charging stations. Or do you have an idea for an App yourself? 
The stations will integrate with the standard mapping apps. We will also roll out an app allowing pre booking, charger availability and trip planning features. This initiative sounds like the solution to all the woes e-vehicle drivers envisage.  But as pessimistic South Africans we have to be cynical and look at what can go wrong.

Do you expect any problems with registration or government tariffs? 
We have 45 sites in different stages of application and negotiation of the different planning and land use regimes as well as the environmental compliance and authorisation. It is an onerous, expensive, and time-consuming process. That is why we have started early to have a network in place in 2024 when we expect the sales of electric vehicles to start growing exponentially.

What if – in the case of one of those prolonged Eskom blackouts, businesses or people in the vicinity simply start using the electricity station that is powered by your sun panels and wind turbine? Do you have security measures in place? 
We are optimists about our country and its people. South Africans always surprises everybody by not behaving as badly as expected. That said however we do put state of the art security in place to protect our infrastructure but also to provide a safe and secure environment for our customers.

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