Eskom gears up to support growth of e-mobility sector in SA

Saturday, February 25, 2023

Eskom on Saturday announced that it is positioning itself to play an important role in supporting the development of the electric mobility (e-mobility) sector in South Africa. 

Speaking at Africa’s Green Economy Summit held in Cape Town this week, Eskom Group Executive for Distribution, Monde Bala, stated that the organisation has pledged to be part of the anchor market for electric vehicles (EVs) to make a positive contribution towards local market stimulation.

The power utility said it has joined the list of local sponsors for the E-Fest Electric with a R2.1 million sponsorship, which will profile Eskom’s microgrid technology and mobility solution.

Africa's first consumer clean energy and electric event, E-Fest Electric, is taking place in Cape Town this weekend.

Eskom said that it 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.

“In line with Eskom’s Just Energy Transition (JET) vision of achieving ‘net zero’ carbon emissions by 2050, we are also aiming for zero emissions from our sizeable fleet of vehicles. We aspire to replace our entire fleet of conventional vehicles with electric vehicles by 2040,” said Bala.

Eskom said it is undertaking a pilot project to introduce electric vehicles, utility and passenger, to the Eskom fleet, which amounts to approximately 13 000 vehicles. 

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 at Eskom sites across the country through the applicable procurement processes. In time, these should be accessible to the public,” said Bala.

Eskom has also announced that it is deploying microgrids that will also support the growth of eMobility in the country, while also serving as an alternative solution to addressing load shedding. 

Eskom currently has four sites being powered by the microgrid technology in Ficksburg (Free State), Lynedoch (Western Cape) and Swartkop (Northern Cape), supplying renewable electricity to over 200 households, a police station and businesses in that area. 

According to the power utility, it is conducting feasibility studies at 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.

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

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

“On the other hand, the installation of the microgrid at Lynedoch residential area demonstrates how this technology can be used to complement the grid, serving as a backup electricity supply to households, hospitals and other facilities. As an added advantage, microgrids contribute to reducing carbon emissions because they use renewable sources,” the power utility said.

Battery storage, according to Eskom, will also be a key enabler of eMobility. 

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 (BESS) project having already begun at the Elandskop BESS site in KwaZulu-Natal in December last year. –