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Free solar charging network from Tesla will reduce range anxiety

Tesla Motors has a lot of hopes riding on its new Model S electric vehicle. The company hopes that the Model S will help it become profitable. In August, the company finished production of its first 50 vehicles and began deliveries to customers.

However, despite the excellent performance and sexy looks, one of the problems drivers have with any electric vehicle is range anxiety.
 
Drivers who might otherwise be interested in an electric vehicle become concerned that the car may run out of power before they reach their destination and often opt for a hybrid or conventional car instead of the EV due to that fear. Tesla has announced that it intends to install a revolutionary network of high-performance electric chargers around the country that it is calling the Supercharger network. The chargers will be available to Model S and other Tesla vehicle owners at no cost.
 
“Tesla’s Supercharger network is a game changer for electric vehicles, providing long distance travel that has a level of convenience equivalent to gasoline cars for all practical purposes. However, by making electric long distance travel at no cost, an impossibility for gasoline cars, Tesla is demonstrating just how fundamentally better electric transport can be,” said Elon Musk, Tesla Motors co-founder and CEO. “We are giving Model S the ability to drive almost anywhere for free on pure sunlight.”
 

Tesla Model S
 
Tesla has revealed the locations for the initial six Supercharger stations. The stations are installed throughout California and in parts of Nevada and Arizona. The electricity used to recharge Tesla vehicles using the Superchargers comes from a solar carport system installed by SolarCity. According to Tesla, using these solar installations means that there is almost zero marginal energy costs after the installation.
 
By next year, Tesla plans to install Superchargers in high-traffic corridors across the continental United States. The goal is to provide fast purely electric travel from Vancouver to San Diego, Miami to Montréal, and Los Angeles to New York according to Tesla area
 
The company will also begin installing Superchargers in Europe and Asia in the second half of 2013. Supercharger is an apt name for the new charging systems that are able to provide almost 100 kW of power to the Model S. The charging stations also have the potential to go as high as 120 kW in the future. The charging capacity is enough to allow the Model S to drive for three hours at 60 mph after 30 minutes of charging.

Source: Tesla Motors



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RE: Fun with math
By Azethoth on 9/25/2012 4:15:01 PM , Rating: 2
Just to be clear about what Jeff is saying here. Most solar installations dump power into the grid. When you need power you get it from the grid. You pay or get paid for the net usage.

Directly using the solar power costs more and runs into storage problems. So most people don't do that.

Now get back to your "i'm an engineer and I don't understand power engineering 'math' but I am having fun on the internets instead of studying so I can understand".


RE: Fun with math
By Jeffk464 on 9/25/2012 5:03:53 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, I think putting the solar panels where people can see them for a specific use is mostly a marketing campaign.


RE: Fun with math
By HoosierEngineer5 on 9/25/2012 5:40:49 PM , Rating: 2
I am implying that this doesn't make sense because small installations would need to store enough energy for peak travel (possibly requiring travelers to 'reserve' a charge ahead of time). On the other hand, solar electric generation is expensive, and if it goes unused, the waste increases the cost per watt-hour even more. You may need enough battery storage for several weeks' worth of power to begin to be efficient.

Using 700 square foot installations, you will need to store a whole day's worth of power (sunny day) to provide a 30-minute charge for a single car. The next car that shows up is out of luck. For a 9 hour cruise, you would use up the entire daily energy capture from three stations, which happens to be half of the initial proposal. Plunking hundreds or thousands of these along cow paths would be wasteful and probably maintenance nightmares. During prolonged overcast conditions, electric travel becomes risky.

I could see this being useful for rural individuals who have 150 - 300 mile daily commutes and have their own key. Before leaving, you could verify sufficient energy is available to make the return trip. I don't see it yet for free electricity for all, except as large installations which can be effectively managed. The obvious next step is to connect to the grid (which is probably already there) so that less storage is required, excess capacity can be utilized, and peak demand can be satisfied. That's how engineers think.


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