Department of Environmental Affairs launches Green Cars Initiative

Submitted by: Amanda Botes, Wednesday, February 27, 2013

<p>The Department of Environmental Affairs has introduced four electric cars into its fleet that will be powered by solar energy (Image Source: Department of Environmental Affairs)</p>

The Department of Environmental Affairs has introduced four electric cars into its fleet that will be powered by solar energy (Image Source: Department of Environmental Affairs)

The Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs, Ms Edna Molewa, launched the Department of Environmental Affairs’ Zero Emission Electric Vehicle Programme, also referred to as DEA Green Cars, on 26 February 2013. The initial phase of the project involves a pilot study where four Nissan Leaf electric cars, fully powered by solar energy, will be tested and used by the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) at their new Head Office over a three year period.  

The cars will be charged at charging stations with dual grid connections at the Head Office. A 15 kilowatt high-tech solar tracking device has been installed at the Department’s Head Office and will charge the four Nissan Leaf vehicles. Any excess renewable energy generated will be placed onto the grid to offset the carbon that is generated in the construction of the DEA’s new green building.

If the cars need to be charged overnight, the electricity used will be offset by the energy generated during the day by the solar tracking device. “The amount of electricity utilized for charging and running of the vehicle[s] is carefully monitored and logged and is offset against the amount of electricity generated by the solar tracker,” explained Molewa at the launch of the initiative.

 Minister Molewa launched the DEA Green Car initiative at a function on the 26th of February 2013 (Image Source: Department of Environmental Affairs).

Commenting on the future of electric cars and the availability of charging stations in South Africa Molewa explained that “It is envisaged that in future, these tracking devices will be installed on the major commuter routes for the direct charging of vehicles in real time.” An “e-transport location analysis” has been planned in order to determine the best sites for the roll out of charging stations at key transport hubs and business districts.

An important aspect of the pilot project is to raise awareness about the potential of carbon neutral transport in South Africa, said Molewa. “With the increase in urbanization and a growing middle class in South Africa, the demand for modern transportation to support its urban lifestyle can be met by the carbon neutral electric car option” explains Molewa. 

The aim of the Zero Emission Electric Vehicle Programme, as explained by Molewa, is to demonstrate “the capability and readiness for South Africa to transition to a low carbon path in the transport sector with the use of a combination of renewable energy technology; state of the art electric vehicles and a carbon neutral offset mechanism.” The Programme seeks to ensure that South Africa practically contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gases through the promotion of cleaner fuel sources by the automotive industry.

The initiative is a partnership that includes the Departments of: Trade and Industry, Transport, Energy, Science and Technology; and the South African Bureau of Standards, Nissan South Africa and other car makers, South African Revenue Service, Eskom, the private sector and municipalities. 

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Amanda Botes