Your smartphone app has just notified you that Eskom will be switching off the lights within the next hour, and your suburb is at the top of the list. Since you’ve just purchased your first electric vehicle (EV), should you be worried that you’ll be twiddling your thumbs until the electricity supply is restored? The short answer is, no! While there is certainly a degree of inconvenience that comes with load-shedding, the truth is that typical EV usage isn’t impacted much by scheduled blackouts.
In South Africa and around the world, electricity consumption normally peaks in the morning and evening, before demand dips markedly to its lowest point in the dead of night. That’s one of the reasons it’s become common practice for owners to charge their EVs while they sleep. Even if a two-hour blackout were to interrupt an overnight charging schedule, the battery would likely still be at least very near capacity, if not entirely full, once morning rolls around.
GridCars, points out that of its numerous public charging stations situated along major routes across the country, some 60 per cent of DC fast chargers are backed by an emergency generator and are available to access 24/7. Finally, there’s the simple alternative of driving to the next-closest charging point outside of the blackout-hit suburb.
Winstone Jordaan, Managing Director of GridCars points out that load-shedding typically affects different areas at different times. “If there is load-shedding when you go to refuel your car at your local petrol station and you find that it is offline, what do you do? You drive to another petrol station that is not currently under load-shedding. The whole country is not blacked out at the same time. Same with EVs; if your charging station is without power you just drive to the next closest one.”
While there is a lot of work to be done and prices need to come down, it is entirely possible to live with an EV with only one fundamental change – charge at every opportunity instead of ‘destination filling’ when your car is empty.
DC fast charging stations that have generator backup during load shedding*
Alzu (Petroport N4)
Baywest Mall (Port Elizabeth)
Bedford Centre (Bedfordview)
Bergview 1-Stop (Harrismith)
Caltex Mentors Plaza (Jeffreys Bay)
Cradlestone Mall (Krugersdorp)
Drostdy Hotel (Graaff-Reinett)
East Rand Mall (Boksburg)
Engen 1-Stop (Colesberg)
Engen 1-Stop (Laingsburg)
Engen 1-Stop (Mooi River)
Engen 1-Stop (Riversdal)
Engen Swartberg (Beaufort West)
Fourways Mall (Johannesburg)
Gardens Shopping Centre (Cape Town)
Gateway Mall (Umhlanga)
I’Langa Mall (Nelspruit)
Mall of the North (Polokwane)
Midlands Mall (Pietermaritzburg)
Mooirivier Mall (Potchefstroom)
Sandton City (Sandton)
Waterfall Mall (Rustenburg)