What’s Powering The Electric Car Charging Station? A Diesel Generator
It’s becoming a joke all around the world — the EVs in Australia powered by dirty diesel. But what’s the difference?
Most EVs in Australia are running on fossil fuel — the generators are just hidden behind longer extension cords. (Ones that carry 240,000V). EVs on our grid are running on 80% of fossil fuels every day.
The sign on the charger above says “Nullarbor” — the vast treeless and grid-free center of Australia — but this is actually a test site in Perth (the trees were the giveaway).
The 3,000 kilometer trip across the Nullarbor from Perth to Adelaide is such an achievement for an EV that it’s practically a news story each time one makes it.
Electric Car owners carry a chip about not being able to drive across the country as any real car owner could.
So Jon Edwards, a retired engineer from Perth, set up this test site in his backyard. He wanted to know if it could be a realistic stop-gap for our far remote roads.
To me, this looks like a chain of efficiency losses going from diesel to mechanical to electrical to battery to mechanical, but Edwards tested it with ten friend’s cars last December and estimates it works out slightly better on fuel use than just driving a diesel.
Readers can check out all his calculations and tables on his page — at a glance it’s a respectable effort. He is an engineer.
The charger is a Tritium Veefil 50kW DC (a big fast one) and took 9 hours to charge all 10 cars and used 108L of fuel. Good for fuel. Bad for time. (The 6,600km return trip across the Nullabor took 13 days in case you were wondering, though they were not in a race).
There’s a good reason EVs are only 0.2% of all new Australian car purchases — with vast distances, a fragile grid, expensive electricity and heavy towing loads.
Plus these fast chargers are like adding “20 houses” to our grid, so will cripple the system or require billions of dollars of infrastructure costs.
The dumbest thing is that as long as they run off fossil fuels, they’ll probably increase our CO2 emissions, doing the exact opposite of what they’re supposed to be doing, but yet perversely helping plants grow.
Their big environmental benefit being mainly achieved by failing to do what they are intended to do.
Good for Jon Edwards for financing his own experiment. but there was one funny moment when he mentioned tax:
…he tells The Driven that driving to Adelaide and back in an electric car, “I felt like a third-class citizen.”
“I’m a tax-paying citizen and I’m driving an EV, why haven’t we got infrastructure to service us?” he says.
…and the first commenter, Pedro, reminded him that EV owners don’t pay the fuel taxes that maintain the roads the EVs drive on.
But, hey, he’s in the comments there explaining himself. Give him points, just please don’t give him more of our taxes.
Lots of commenters there wonder why he didn’t use a solar-powered battery pack:
Jon Edwards replied:
To close the gap from Clare in SA to Perth in WA, 14 stations approx 200 km apart are needed to create a highway eVs can use. Until the highway is created the eVs crossing will remain at less than 10 per year.. a number that governments, businesses and investors can not get excited about.
So in my humble view the way to get 14 stations in place to create a highway – is to assemble 14 ChargePods and stick them out there. Ideally a smart government would offer a grant to each location to purchase the unit.
Then each location would own the asset, fuel and maintain the asset, and with time make some money from the asset. But for the growing eV community with an instant highway in place.. guess what happens next? Yep the eV traffic will increase and the business case for more green solutions can be calculated.
So from my perspective, even though we have proven equivalent, its not about fuel consumption, its about creating a highway that currently has no business case to support it.
And before any reader says “but why wouldn’t you go solar?”.. Calculate the cost of say a 300 kwhr battery (allowing for losses it may charge 2 x 100 kwhr Teslas in the same day), a 60 kw inverter, 50kw eV charger, say 100kw of panels, all the controls, battery management system, electrical work, containers, installation labour, concrete, cranes, commissioning, accommodation, insect repellent, sunblock and bottled water.. at Caiguna in WA…for a 2 car per day system that needs 3 days to recharge…then compare that to dropping off a ChargePod with a Hiab as has just been done. (check out Plugshare Caltex at Jurien Bay WA.) and have a 24 car per day system everyday..
Its about creating an instant highway, then green it up when the numbers stack up.
There’s a reason only 10 EVs cross the Nullabor a year.
Read more at JoNova