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Charging for Tesla truck could power 3,200 UK homes for 1 hour

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CleanTechnica

John Feddersen is the director of Aurora Energy Research, an international market intelligence and research agency.

He told the Financial Times recently that the power needed to recharge one Tesla Semi in 30 minutes, as touted by Elon Musk at the introduction of the electric Class 8 truck on November 16, would power up to 3,200 typical UK homes for one hour.

His calculations are based on hauling a fully loaded cargo trailer for 500 miles — the real-world range of the Tesla Semi according to Musk — a task Feddersen says would consume 1600 kilowatt-hours of electricity despite Tesla claiming quite a bit less energy demand.

Tesla-Semi-via-Tesla

There may be some debate about the calculations. Figures lie and liars figure, after all. Tesla claims its Semi will use under 2 kWh of energy for every mile traveled with a full load.

But that’s in steady speed operation on level ground no doubt. Climbing hills and accelerating up to speed would require a little more juice no doubt, even if some of it is recaptured under deceleration and braking.

The editors of Norwegian news site TV2 have done their own calculations. The typical Norwegian home uses much more energy than one in the UK — 20,000 kWh per year versus 4,000 kWh — but even at that higher rate, the energy needed to recharge a Tesla Semi would power 700 Norwegian homes for one hour.

Where is Tesla going to get all that power and how is it going to keep the cost to no more than 7 cents per kilowatt-hour, as advertised?

The company talked about using solar panels (presumably, from its SolarCity division) and Tesla Powerpacks at Megachargers, but it’s unclear where those will be available in initial years.

We know that the Semi has an 8 pin connector, leading to speculation that the more powerful truck chargers will have about 4 times the power of the Superchargers Tesla uses to recharge its passenger cars, but that’s just ~500 kW, far less than a megawatt.

Certainly, a large storage battery or two of significant size will be required to zap the Semis with solar energy when they roll into a truck stop at the edge of the superslab. What the cost of those will be and how they will be covered is still somewhat of a mystery.

We are left to await further details about the charging systems that will keep Tesla’s electric trucks powered up and working. But one thing we know for sure is — these are some powerful beasts.

Source: CleanTechnica. Reproduced with permission.  

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  • MaxG

    So what? It is just another calculation comparing two things with questionable relevance.
    They could have said, a car using 7 litres petrol per 100 km could power 112 homes for an hour. AND? Who cares?

    • Andy Saunders

      It’s kinda important for distribution grid businesses – that’s a pretty concentrated load. Will have repercussions when charging stations start getting built.

      And if there’s a local storage battery at the charging station to buffer the load, there’ll be another perhaps 10-15%-odd energy loss in the chain.

      • Phil

        I think this is going to KILL off any LNG truck interim fuel potential in Australia.And that’s a good thing

        Technically this could and should save an underutilised and declining demand grid from becoming a partly stranded asset.

        It depends on if the morons in the energy sector continue to be morons or not because Tesla don’t seem to tolerate morons like most do.

      • MaxG

        Thanks and yes, I get that… but it was more a play with numbers than actually spelling out, “where do we place the chargers’ etc. 🙂

  • Tom

    i did nut no dat electric car charged by electricity!?

  • grantoz

    As another poster said… so what?

    How is this worse than using even more power (diesel propulsion being less efficient than electric) that has been stored underground in chemical form for millions of years, which is then turned into greenhouse gases?

    At least with an electric semi (or cars for that matter) there is the increasingly available option of using renewable energy. Solar and wind are just getting going as they come down the cost curve and large scale deployments are becoming commonplace.

    No doubt clever people will work out a way to charge electric cars, vans and trucks during times of renewable energy abundance, i.e. when it is windy or sunny. Of course that won’t always be possible, but it often will be.

  • John Saint-Smith

    So, for how many minutes would that charge drive a mega cruise liner? For how many seconds would it supply an aluminium smelter? Anybody with half a mathematical brain cell would realize that a few hundred houses for one hour is irrelevant in a country with 50 million households that demand power 24/7.

    • Murray Wayper

      It’s got to be a unit of measurement people understand. Like a Big Mac as a unit.

      • John Saint-Smith

        And the net result of these pointless, and as may be seen from MikeH’s comment above, completely absurd estimates about 3200 homes for one hour, using just 0.4 kwh, is just more confusion and distraction.
        The real figure would be closer to 500 homes for 1 hour, or slightly more meaningfully, 100 homes for a day!

  • JohnM

    The semi is more about the incredible potential of big batteries. Existing battery tech is likely to be superceded and improved incrementally and dramatically over the coming years, like solar. As energy storage density improves, all kinds of crazy things are possible… check this for instance…electric jets???
    https://electrek.co/2017/11/28/airbus-partners-rolls-royce-siemens-build-electric-plane/

  • MikeH

    The article by the usually excellent Steve Hanley totally confuses power and energy.

    If you read the actual FT article, it is a bit clearer

    >The US electric carmaker unveiled a battery-powered truck earlier this month, promising haulage drivers they could add 400 miles of charge in as little as 30 minutes using a new “megacharger” to be made by the company.

    >John Feddersen, chief executive of Aurora Energy Research, a consultancy set up in 2013 by a group of Oxford university professors, said the power required for the megacharger to fill a battery in that amount of time would be 1,600 kilowatts.

    >That is the equivalent of providing power for 3,000-4,000 “average” houses, he told a London conference last week, and is 10 times as powerful as Tesla’s current network of “superchargers” for its electric cars.

    https://www.ft.com/content/f5593480-d29a-11e7-8c9a-d9c0a5c8d5c9

    So 1600 kW **power** for 30 minutes -> 800 kWh energy necessary for 400 miles which is the 2kW per mile claimed by Tesla.

    And 4000 homes implies that each house is drawing 0.4 kW. Maybe in the middle of the night with only the fridge on. Average peak demand in the UK is approx 2kW so the power required is similar to required to supply peak demand to 800 homes.

    So Tesla trucks are not going to charged via the average household circuit. But who has a diesel pump in the garage now?

    • Mike Westerman

      Yes it’s a bit of a WGAF statement – an 11kV connection to your typical large goods distribution centre is probably good for 10MW or more.

      • MaxG

        Love it! The relvant Aussie term is far more succinct: WGAF, compared to “So what? It is just another calculation comparing two things with questionable relevance.”

    • Miles Harding

      Elon has already thought about this.
      He was suggesting that the MegaChargers would be powered by solar panels (farms) as a way of delivering 7 cent per kwh energy. This would suggest that there will be a lot of MegaCharger battery capacity to allow a truck to charge.

      Similar to electric cars, nobody seems to realise that we only ever partially charge EVs, so the actual charge needed will be less than this, likely much less in most duties. It is possible to drive Perth-Sydney fully electric, but most trips are still to the local shops.

      I would expect the initial market will be urban and short haul operations where diesels perform their worst and a quiet and powerful electric truck will have the greatest advantage. Charging is then possible overnight and while waiting for the forklifts to find the cargo, in which case, vast solar on the warehouse roof would be a good option.

  • Tom

    Yet no-one bats an eyelid when a diesel truck fuels up with more than twice that amount of energy contained in a fossil fuel, then proceed to waste half of the energy as heat, while pouring all of the spent carbon into the air !

  • Andreas Ryf

    It is meanwhile obvious, that future charging points will have power demands, that make a direct supply from the grid in most cases unaffordable. If you don’t have a very high utilization, paying for a 1 or 2MW (or even more MW) connection is financially not viable to charge only during 2-3 hours a day.
    Already today, charging stations are being equipped with battery storage, which do the peak-shaving and can (and will) be used in the future as great demand-side response systems, being able to absorb excess renewables from the grid or even to provide grid services (frequency stabilization, apparent power, etc.).
    Charging stations will not be a problem for the grid but quite the contrary, they will stabilze the grid. V2G is in my opinion a nonsense, rather it will be charger2grid.

  • Anthony Paull

    The comments here are on point. A tank of fuel in a car can power my energy needs using a regular generator for over a week, probably more if I could s use battery storage and throttle it. A single tank of fuel from a truck could probably power me for a whole year…

    Our houses simply don’t use that much energy.

  • trackdaze

    Thats about how many households virtually disappear off the grid each month from installing solar.

  • Discus

    we’ve got platooning.. its called an electric freight train! solar farm panels create heat.. they reflect rays back into atmosphere.. wind turbines stanchions push against earth to spin.. it all effects something else. seems planets die that no longer have carbon in their atmospheres as its sunk all away. where did all that carbon laid down come from?? volcano’s, meteors, ice ages, floods.. we’re still here aren’t we!

  • Aluap

    I can’t see what’s special about charging via electricity in this article. The result could equally apply to filling up with petrol!

  • Andrew Roydhouse

    Both those calculations are so BIASED it is not funny.Apples with green oranges at best.

    A house normally uses close to 65% of power in a 3 hour period – breakfast time and dinner time. The rest of the time is a fraction per hour.

    How much electricity does a Tesla truck use when it is parked and the driver is having the mandatory end of shift break? Zero.

    A ‘just’ or ‘honest’ comparison would be how many houses would be powered at their peak use vs the truck’s peak use? Then the figure would be more like several hundred at best.

    For example using a typical small electric oven (in tne real world with 3-10 yr old door seals) chews through several kWhs in short order. Turn on the aircon to cool the house when people come home..

    What about the comparison of energy use for the truck when parked/turned off vs a house at night?
    Shock, horror headline – ‘Single house could power over 20,000 Tesla Trucks’