Eskom making big push into electric vehicles

 ·25 Feb 2023

Eskom has announced that it will play a major role in supporting the development of the electric vehicle (EV) sector in South Africa.

Speaking at Africa’s Green Economy Summit, the company’s executive for distribution Monde Bala said that the organisation has pledged to be part of the anchor market for EVs to make a positive contribution towards local market stimulation.

By 2040, Eskom plans to replace its entire fleet of conventional vehicles with EVs.

The embattled power utility is currently undertaking a pilot project to introduce EVs, utility and passenger, to the Eskom fleet, amounting to 13,000 vehicles.

In this regard, Eskom has joined the list of local sponsors for the E-Fest with an R2.1 million sponsorship which will profile Eskom’s microgrid technology and mobility solution.

Eskom has already submitted the residential time-of-use (ToU) charging tariff to the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (Nersa) for approval.

This will enable EV owners to achieve significant savings when using the off-peak and standard periods to charge their cars, encouraging EV uptake and boosting electricity sales.

The shift towards EVs is part of Eskoms plan to achieve ‘net zero by 2050.

“Plans are underway to begin the process of converting the rest of the Eskom fleet to electric where possible. We will soon seek suitable partners for the rollout of public charging stations on Eskom sites across the country, through applicable procurement processes. In time, these should be accessible to the public,” said Bala.

Eskom said it is also deploying microgrids which will also support the growth of eMobility in the country. While also serving as an alternative solution to addressing loadshedding.

Eskom currently has four sites being powered by microgrid technology:

  • The Ficksburg (Free State)
  • Lynedoch (Western Cape)
  • Swartkop (Northern Cape)

The microgrids are planned to supply renewable electricity to over two hundred households, a Police station, and businesses in the area. Eskom is conducting feasibility studies on more than 80 project sites around the country.

Most of the identified sites will use solar photovoltaic (PV) as the primary source of energy and Lithium Ion batteries for storage capability. Other sites will use micro wind turbines and small-scale hydro turbines based on the most optimum energy source available, Eskom said.

The rollout of these projects will be phased over the next five years.

The deployment of the microgrids at Swartkop and Ficksburg serves as a proof of concept in using of microgrids in remote areas which are difficult to reach or expensive to electrify through the conventional means of electrification.

It added that battery storage will also be a key enabler for eMobility (electric-based transport systems).

“Eskom is making notable progress in this regard with the construction of the first energy storage facility under Eskom’s flagship battery energy storage systems.”

Read: Rooftop solar in South Africa still faces these major challenges

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