Government underestimated strain EVs would place on Eskom

Zero Carbon Charge (Zero CC) has made its submission to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) on the draft Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).

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The submission highlights that, based on Zero Carbon Charge’s own research, the draft IRP has not fully considered the increased demand that the transition to Electric Vehicles (EVs) will place on the national Eskom power grid over the next 26 years, up to 2050.

Using projected EV sales, Zero Carbon Charge has calculated the number of EVs in South Africa each year, while factoring in that the average South African driver covers 25 000 km annually, with an EV-energy efficiency (the amount of energy drawn from a vehicle’s battery to travel 1km) of approximately 0.22 kWh/km.

When compared to the draft IRP’s overall projections for e-mobility, Zero Carbon Charge’s projections show that the demand on the grid will be far greater, as set out in the graph below:

The graph shows that, for example, by 2034 our projections predict the demand created by passenger EVs would have hit 10 Terawatt-hours (TWh), whereas the IRP predicts less than half that, at around 5 TWh. In 2050, our projections show that the demand created by passenger EVs will be just over 60 TWh, while the IRP’s projection is around 10 TWh less, at just over 50 TWh.

When this increased demand is viewed against other matters raised in the draft IRP, most notably (a) that power outages are likely to continue until 2028 and (b) that there will be a delay in the decommissioning of coal-fired power stations until there is a stable supply of electricity in the country, three things become apparent:

1: South Africa’s national, coal-fired grid, will not to be able to manage the demands imposed on it by the mass charging of EVs – even if one uses the conservative e-mobility demand projections contained in the draft IRP.

2: Coal-powered EVs will not help our country to achieve a just energy transition and its net zero targets by 2050. Research undertaken by Zero Carbon Charge shows that an EV charged with Eskom’s coal-fired electricity emits 5.3 metric tonnes of carbon emissions in a year. This is significantly more than a petrol vehicle which, on average, emits 4.4 metric tonnes of carbon emissions in a year if driven over the same distance.

3: The only way to minimise load-shedding and reduce carbon emissions is for EVs to be powered independently of Eskom’s grid.

As part of Zero Carbon Charge’s submission to the DMRE, it presents four scenarios that show how off-grid EV charging can alleviate the burden on the grid. The graph below shows that as EV adoption increases, the benefits of off-grid charging could also increase considerably each year from 2040 up to 2050. For example, if only 25% of EVs are powered by off-grid charging, around 13 TWh of demand could be removed from the grid in 2050.

“Our analysis makes it clear that the only way to reduce demand on the grid and for South Africa to achieve its net-zero targets, government must focus on the mass roll-out of EV off-grid charging stations that are powered by renewable energy,” says Andries Malherbe, Co-Founder and Director of Zero Carbon Charge.

Zero Carbon Charge remains on track to roll out 120 Solar PV-powered ultra-fast off-grid chargers, approximately 150 km apart, covering all the strategic highways and major routes in South Africa by September 2025. Besides safeguarding the grid and helping the environment, Zero Carbon Charge’s investment, worth R1.8 billion, will also boost South Africa’s rural economies by providing local jobs and an additional revenue stream for farmers.

“We are grateful to have been given an opportunity to comment on the draft IRP and hope to continue engaging with the DMRE on our solution to reduce the future reliance of EVs on the grid,” said Joubert Roux, Co-Founder and Director of Zero Carbon Charge.

Zero Carbon Charge has also written to the Minister of Trade, Industry and Competition, Ebrahim Patel, requesting a meeting to engage further on the EV White Paper released last month, including the need for an off-grid EV-charging solution.

● For more on Zero Carbon Charge, visit www.charge.co.za

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