Eskom to trial electric vehicles in South Africa


Eskom chief
executive Brian Dames
in one of the
Nissan Leaf cars
Johannesburg, South Africa — (METERING.COM) — June 7, 2013

South African utility Eskom has commenced a research project to study the charging requirements and characteristics of electric vehicles in order to prepare for their entry in the South African market and for the effect they may have on the national grid.

The company has just taken delivery of 10 Nissan Leaf all-electric cars, which will be used to study their charging requirements and characteristics over a period of three years. The study will focus on elements such as electricity use per kilometer, commuting costs and vehicle range.
With the growing popularity of EVs, Eskom wants to ensure it is strategically placed to manage their uptake in the market.

“We support the principle of electric cars, in line with Eskom’s aim of finding and enabling technology solutions for a cleaner future,” said Dr. Steve Lennon, Eskom Group Executive for Sustainability.

Eskom has several clear research goals to achieve over the next three years:

  • Understanding the energy required to charge the EVs and the charging characteristics
  • Identifying customer usage patterns that will determine how the vehicles are used and when they are charged
  • Exploring the use of EVs as a demand management device through remote control of charge and discharge cycles
  • Deciding on the possibility of EV tariffs that could be incorporated in future schemes
  • Examining whether EVs have a future in the fleet requirements of Eskom
  • Researching customer perceptions, infrastructure requirements and the carbon value chain.

Eskom will also need to understand what electricity infrastructure is required and how such infrastructure is likely to be used before EVs become widely used in South Africa. This is not expected to happen immediately, but Eskom anticipates a gradual increase in adoption of the technology by the public over the next few years.

For the project, charging stations have been installed at Eskom’s head office, Megawatt Park, in Sunninghill and at its research facility in Rosherville in Germiston. Several portable charging stations will be moved with the vehicles to enable participants to charge vehicles at home.
Eskom will also explore the possibility of discharging energy from the vehicles’ battery into the grid. Future financial compensation for EV owners who discharge into the grid will be considered as part of the studies.