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All Tesla Supercharger stations to be solar powered, says Musk

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CleanTechnica

Fed by the virtually unlimited supply of money emanating from the Koch Brothers to influence the media, plenty of people are convinced that electric cars are not as green as they pretend to be. That includes Teslas that recharge at Supercharger locations.

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After all, they have to get their electricity from somewhere and in many places worldwide, that somewhere is a coal-fired generating plant. The critics ask, what good is it to have zero tailpipe emissions if the stuff that makes the car go is derived from burning coal? One such critic posed that question to Elon Musk yesterday and got an unexpected response.

Tesla has embarked on a campaign to double the number of its Supercharger locations in 2017. In a blog post earlier this year, it said,

“As Tesla prepares for our first mass-market vehicle and continues to increase our Model S and Model X fleet, we’re making charging an even greater priority. It is extremely important to us and our mission that charging is convenient, abundant, and reliable for all owners, current and future. In 2017, we’ll be doubling the Tesla charging network, expanding existing sites so drivers never wait to charge, and broadening our charging locations within city centers.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists has published data refuting the hackneyed claim that electric cars are not all that green. Its study finds that two thirds of all Americans live in an area where driving an electric car contributes fewer total emissions than driving the most fuel efficient hybrid.

The only parts of the country where that is not true are places like West Virginia, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, where the majority of electricity comes from coal-fired plants.

In fact, driving a Tesla in Wheeling, West Virginia creates more carbon pollution than driving a 64 Chevelle with the 396 engine. That’s because West Virginians are proud of their ability to poison themselves and their families with coal pollutants.

How soon will it be before all Tesla Supercharger locations are solar powered? Musk left the answer to that question somewhat vague. Suffice to say, it will be sooner than the charging equipment offered by any other automaker.

This article was originally published on CleanTechnica. Reproduced here with permission.  

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  • Peter

    There may be a coal plant behind the charger, but the petroleum system is much reduced.

    In southern Victoria, from data I have collected for one year before and after purchasing solar PV and a plug-in hybrid vehicle:

    – A 3 kW Solar PV system displaces about 4MWh of generation per annum

    – The emissions intensities of petrol and coal generated in Victoria is about the same

    – The cost savings switching from petrol to electricity were significant ($1,300 savings in petrol and $100 in registration).

    • john

      Yes saving to you but more important a reduction in emissions, and while it may be small when there is a large number doing the same this becomes significant.

      • Peter

        Yes. It is not just “saving the planet” by displacing 4MWh/annum, but significantly impacting the pay-back period of the panels by taking advantage of the petrol savings.

    • George Darroch

      Add to this the fact that the emissions intensity of Victorian production is decreasing every year and will for the foreseeable future.

  • john

    Poor Koch brothers have to be scraping the barrel to actually say that charging of a car with power from a Coal Powered Generator is terrible.
    I just like the response “All Superchargers are being converted to solar/battery power. Over time, almost all will disconnect from the electricity grid.”

    How disconnected from reality are these blokes?

    They obviously do realise that the supply of power from their type of equipment is socially unacceptable but then in their weird world of disconnect wish to say that using this is socially unacceptable.
    Well at least they do realise their power production is socially unacceptable perhaps they actually do understand they are a parasite for society and will change their outlook.
    Frankly it is about time a realistic outlook on the outcomes from our society is looked at.

    • Richard

      They are not disconnected from reality, they are just trying to slow it down while they get out of it.
      It wouldn’t surprise me if , behind the scenes they are investing heavily in renewable energy.
      That is why it is so important for everyone to check their super and their banks
      and share portfolios investments etc. And make sure they are as far removed from fossil as they can get. Because the smart money is piling out of it as quick as it can. It’s the little guy who will be left carrying the losses. And the losses are going to be humungous!

  • Chris Ford

    I don’t think disconnecting most charging stations from the grid is feasible. Out in the country where there’s plenty of space for a decent sized array nearby – sure. But look at the numbers – a 50 kWh charge for 100 vehicles/day is 5MWh/day. Certainly a couple of acres if solar generated, not a few panels for shade like the graphic. Solar only micro-grid maybe?

    • Peter

      In mid winter, my 20 m^2 PV averages 5kWh/day. So, for 5MWh/day I would need 20000 m^2 which is 2 Ha or 5 acres. On the other hand, at 4.5 km/kWh energy, 50kWh will power each vehicle for 225km.

      In a parking area populated with panels, there is about 12 to 15 m^2 per parking spot. So, in winter, each parking spot would have about 3 – 4 kWh available (in summer, 4 or 5 time more energy).

    • Richard

      Are you kidding! A highway is essentially one huge vacant space just waiting for elevated solar arrays. It wouldn’t cost that much more to instal than ground base, solar panels don’t weigh much.

      • Chris Ford

        For a start, I excluded charging stations out in the country, where I think solar could be feasible, regardless of whether over the highway (which Tesla doesn’t own) or not. Even then, you’re talking about complete coverage over a three lane each way highway for roughly a quarter of a mile for the numbers mentioned.

        It’s more the charging stations in metro areas (not on highways) that are problematic. I reckon there would be lots of public resistance to structures over roadways, and less roadway area for them even if they were approved. Don’t get me wrong – I’d love to see massive solar installations over roadways, but it will require a large degree of coordination with government, who have so far shown themselves to be so far behind the curve that they’ve lost sight of the front pack. In metro areas some kind of grid would still be needed, which is why I suggested a solar only micro-grid around the stations.

        • Richard

          Authorities are a problem, agreed. Depends on how much power is needed for each super charging station. Elon must have some sort of plan up his sleeve, he wouldn’t just state that the super charging stations are going to disconnect from the grid without one.

          So, it’s either build solar over the supercharging sites and over roadways, or there is some other plan! Which, I guess, would require delivering power to sites short on juice via trucks with Mwh batteries.

  • Richard

    If Tesla can take car recharging stations off grid then it will send shudders through the
    energy industry. Because it means you can take virtually anything off grid. And it kills the oil industry at the same time.

    The common refrain is that there isn’t enough area for solar panels at super charging stations to generate enough electricity for all the cars.
    BUT, everyone ignores the fact that recharging stations are situated next to highways which are essentially large vacant areas easily adapted to elevated solar arrays.

    Every week it is clearer how dead non renewable energy is