South Africa’s Steps To Carbon Neutral Transportation

Clean air is a global phenomenon. While much of the media attention for a better environment focuses on countries like the U.K., Germany, Japan, and – of course – the U.S., virtually every continent has at least one working on keeping our atmosphere clear of pollutants. Case in point: South Africa

Last month, Edna Molewa, the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs of South Africa, launched the Zero Emission Electric Vehicle (EV) Program. Also known as the DEA Green Cars, the program is part of the South African government’s pledge to reduce the country’s greenhouse gas emissions by 34 percent by 2020.

DEA Green Car launch

Image from the DEA

Four Nissan Leaf EVs were purchased to head the project. A unique feature to the DEA Green Cars program is that the vehicles will charge from sources powered strictly by solar energy (i.e., they will not tap any electricity from the nation’s power grid.) Specifically, states Molewa, they will use a solar-powered charging station located at the Department of Environmental Affairs (hence the DEA acronym).

Molewa said at the launch of the program, “This solar tracker produces enough energy to charge the electric cars as well as provide excess clean renewable energy into the grid to offset the carbon footprint of the construction of its green building.”

The DEA Green Cars study is set to run three years. During that time, the DEA will monitor the vehicles’ power usage measured against the power generated by the solar-powered charging unit. Minister Molewa and the DEA have drawn up plans to have such units built at various business and commercial centers, airports, as well as community hubs like malls. Other governmental departments involved in the project include the Bureau of Standards, Energy, Science and Technology, Trade and Industry, and Transport. Various cities and state governments are involved as well. Other automakers besides Nissan are keeping an eye on the DEA Green Cars program. Note that Nissan plans to start selling its Leaf EVs in South Africa sometime this year.

Joel Arellano is a writing professional for over two decades, working in such diverse industries as finance, aerospace, telecomm, and medical devices. He has covered the automotive industry for more than six years, and his articles and blog posts can found on at Autoblog, Autoblog Green, Automotive.com, motortrend.com, trucktrend.com, and automobilemag.com.