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Truck charging network coming to SA
Truck charging network coming to SA

Truck charging network coming to SA

April 23, 2024

Electric trucks are coming to South Africa (some are already here, albeit in limited numbers). Joubert Roux, Co-Founder and Director of Zero Carbon Charge, has plans to charge them.

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You have announced that Zero Carbon Logistics, a subsidiary of Zero Carbon Charge, will roll out 120 solar PV electric truck charging sites on national highways across South Africa. Please comment on the significance of this. Is this a pivotal moment in the local commercial vehicle industry?

Yes. This will be the first off-grid, 100% green electric truck charging network in the country. Zero Carbon Logistics predicts the demand in electric trucks will increase exponentially from 2027. Building these off-grid electric truck charging stations will provide the infrastructure for the local freight industry to keep up with international trends in the transport sector while providing an opportunity to significantly decrease their carbon footprint. As these stations are off-grid, they will not be subject to loadshedding or grid capacity constraints – providing a viable and reliable alternative to combustion engine trucks for the sector.

When will the charging stations be operational?

The first six sites on the N3 have started the permitting process, and we hope to be up and running by November 2027.

How does Zero Carbon Logistics plan to address the increasing energy demand resulting from the growth of electric trucks in South Africa?

Our calculations show that in order to power the 30,000 electric vehicles that would be travelling on the 14 national roads daily (should South Africa achieve a full transition to electric trucks), an additional 8 billion kWh/year of electricity will be required, which will place a major strain on the national grid. However, Zero Carbon Logistics’ off-grid charging network will be able to step into this gap and help provide the energy created by the growth of electric trucks, through the provision of 120 stations on national highways across the country.

Why is the shift to electric trucks considered a major opportunity for South Africa’s Green Transport Strategy? 

Emissions from the transport sector in South Africa account for 10.8% of the country’s total Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions. The Green Transport Strategy seeks to decarbonise the transport sector and to reduce this figure by 5% by 2050. By providing charging stations for the use of electric trucks powered by clean energy, Zero Carbon Logistics can contribute towards the transport industry’s shift to producing less carbon emissions, thus, helping enable our country to reach the Green Transport Strategy’s 2050 target.

What is the value of your company’s investment?

Zero Carbon Charge’s investment in the creation of an off-grid electric passenger vehicle charging network will be R1.8bn, while an estimated R120bn will be invested to build Zero Carbon Logistics’ network of electric truck charging stations. 

How will the off-grid electric truck charging stations be powered, and what advantages does this approach offer?

The off-grid charging stations will be powered by 35MWp of solar panels and include ultra-fast charging technology coupled with modular battery packs being developed in China with the goal of being able to charge a truck within 20 minutes. The main advantages are that these stations will be powered by 100% clean renewable energy and will not be subject to loadshedding. 

Where is the charging equipment being sourced?

The supercharger systems for Zero Carbon Logistics – though the same as for our Zero Carbon Charge car sites – have not yet started being manufactured. We are in discussions with a few charging companies, though a specific supplier has not yet been identified. As the application processes for permitting these sites go through long and onerous vetting phases, we will finalise the procurement of equipment by the end of the year. The Zero Carbon Charge team is heading to China in April 2024 to visit electric truck manufacturers and electric vehicle charging companies to assess the latest and most sophisticated technology to remain up to date to provide the best charging experience for our future South African clients.

Finally, what are the long-term goals and vision of Zero Carbon Logistics in contributing to South Africa’s transition to a net-zero transport industry?

The long-term goal is to create an off-grid, green, 100% renewable electric truck charging network across all national roads that will encourage and support the local transport industry’s shift to electric trucks and in this way, contribute towards government’s goals of reducing carbon emissions in the transport sector by 5% by 2050.

Author - Charleen ClarkeCharleen ClarkeCharleen Clarke is editorial director of FOCUS on Transport & Logistics, South Africa’s leading commercial vehicle magazine. She is an associate jury member on the International Truck of the Year jury and she also judges the annual Truck Innovation Award. She has been writing about commercial vehicles for more decades than she cares to admit.

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