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Transportation Power

How Does Tesla Build a Supercharger Charging Site? 190

Posted by samzenpus
from the power-up dept.
cartechboy writes Tesla's Superchargers are the talk of the electric car community. These charging stations can take a Model S battery pack from nearly empty to about 150 miles of range in around 30 minutes. That's crazy fast, and it's nothing short of impressive. But what does it take to actually build a Tesla Supercharger site? Apparently a lot of digging. A massive trench is created to run high-capacity electric cables before the charging stations themselves are even installed. A diagram and photos of the Electric Conduit Construction build out have surfaced on the Internet. The conduits connect the charging stations to a power distribution center, which in turn is connected to a transformer that provides the power for charging cars. It took 11 days to install the six charging stalls in Goodland, Kansas. If you thought it was a quick process to build a Supercharger station, you were clearly wrong.
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How Does Tesla Build a Supercharger Charging Site?

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  • That's not quick? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maliqua (1316471) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @07:53PM (#47725003)

    It took 11 days to install the six charging stalls in Goodland, Kansas. If you thought it was a quick process to build a Supercharger station, you were clearly wrong.

    seems quick to me

    • process by just plugging it into the dryer plug at the station. I was clearly wrong.

      • by fyngyrz (762201) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @09:16PM (#47725425) Homepage Journal

        If you thought it was a quick process to build a Supercharger station, you were clearly wrong.

        If you thought I thought it was a quick process to build a Supercharger station, you were just as wrong. If you thought I cared about how long it tool them to build such as station, you were wrong about that, too. And if you thought I liked java over c, you were still wrong. I could go on -- likely longer than even I, in the name oif pushing a point until it is completely blunt, am willing to do so, but I will refrain in the interest of keeping the peace.

        Anyway, as it turns out, TFS serves as a veritable smorgasbord of potential if-then-huhs that can only be explained by somewhat bemused turtles all the way down.

        At this time, I'd like to take a moment to thank my dear friend Yurtle.

    • Re:That's not quick? (Score:5, Informative)

      by theheff (894014) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @08:07PM (#47725083)
      The Goodland, KS site was actually one of the fastest sites to go up- 11 days is very quick. The supercharger in Indio, California, for instance, was started months ago and still isn't online.
      • by PPH (736903) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @09:34PM (#47725517)

        California

        Permits, environmental impact statements, public hearings. And heaven help you if construction frightens a kangaroo rat. The entire project will have to be abandoned.

    • by Firethorn (177587) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @08:08PM (#47725093) Homepage Journal

      Agreed. They're looking into running natural gas through my area. It's going to be at least a 10 year process.

      under two weeks for running relatively high capacity power lines to the supercharger station and getting everything hooked up?

      As an AC mentioned, I'm pretty sure that building a paved level parking lot takes longer. Building any sort of structure generally takes far, far longer.

      • by Rei (128717) on Friday August 22, 2014 @06:12AM (#47727425) Homepage

        Not to mention [bammilieu.eu] that building a gas station takes a heck of a lot longer.

        It's one thing I don't get about EV opponents. Not only are EVs supposed to not have any new inconveniences relative to gasoline vehicles, and not only do inconveniences that gasoline vehicles have that EVs don't have not count toward EVs, but EVs aren't even allow to have the inconveniences that gasoline vehicles have. It's always stuff like "EVs suck because it takes 11 days to build a fast charging station, but don't bother checking into how long it takes to build a gas station!" or "EVs suck because batteries are flammable (Ed: even though most EV battery types aren't particularly flammable), but don't bother asking about the flammability of gasoline!" or "EVs suck because batteries are heavy and bulky, but don't bother asking about the weight and size of internal combustion engines vs. electric motors!" or "EVs suck because batteries are toxic (Ed: Actually, most types nowadays have little toxicity), but don't bother asking about the toxicity of the several tonnes of gasoline the average driver puts into their car every year, their filling spills and fumes, their oil leaks, etc, and the massively dirty industry that produces all this!" Etc.

        I don't get these people.

        • "EVs suck because batteries are heavy and bulky, but don't bother asking about the weight and size of internal combustion engines vs. electric motors!"

          There is a bit of a point to this one, in that the weight savings from getting away from a multiple hundred pound engine to a ~70 pound motor is outweighed by the weight gain to put in a battery powerful enough to utilize that motor over a reasonable difference.

          The Model S is notably heavier than it's conventional peers, and the Roadster as well. They carry the weight well, but it's still there.

          Otherwise I agree with you. The only thing holding EVs back in my mind is the cost of the battery.

          • by drinkypoo (153816)

            The Model S is notably heavier than it's conventional peers, and the Roadster as well. They carry the weight well, but it's still there.

            The Model S is vastly heavier than the cars of a decade ago, let alone two, but it's only slightly heavier than its modern contemporaries. BMW and Mercedes have notably both enlarged their cars significantly. The E-Class is now well-appointed with more heavy kit copied from the S, the new M3 is literally based on the chassis of the old M5, and so on.

            • by mjwalshe (1680392)
              err did you see the side by side comparison Top Gear did of an original tesla vs the donor car the handling difference due to increased mass was very obvious.
              • by Rei (128717)

                Really? You're citing Top Gear as a source of factual information? What's next, are you going to teach me about the occupancy of pineapples at the bottom of the sea because of something you saw on Spongebob?

    • by istartedi (132515)

      Dollar General is planning to build a store in my neighborhood. They got approval a few months ago. Yesterday I saw ONE bulldozer parked near an old building on the site, which they plan to tear down. I won't be surprised if the dozer sits there for 11 days doing nothing. I would be absolutely stunned if they went from ground breaking to opening in 11 days, and there's nothing hi tech about a small box dollar store/grocery.

      It's the red tape that usually makes these things take so long. How long did the

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I've seen a Taco Bell go up in three days. Not completed and opened but the exterior was completed and most of the interior was well defined.

      • since Dollar General is trying to buy out Family Dollar, here's my experience with FD. 192 hours from ground breaking to a fully stocked and ready store. they've done thousands. with 3-D printing on the horizon, DG could cut it in half. most of the down-time is damages.
        • by istartedi (132515)

          So, maybe I shouldn't delay in taking my camera down there to get a few shots of the old hamburger stand . I've already had plenty of warning...

    • to build a gas station? 11 days seems easy-peasy.
      • by brambus (3457531) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @08:55PM (#47725341)
        As far as I could discern, in the 11 days listed here all they did was install the charging ports at a place which already had suitable electrical infrastructure (at a hotel parking lot). It wasn't a full service station in the middle of nowhere. Also, look at service capacity. It takes ~30 minutes to "refuel" a Tesla Model S with 150 miles of extra range. A gas station, meanwhile, will easily do 400+ miles in less than 5 minutes, so it has about 16x higher overall throughput - for a single gas pump you'd need to install about 16 charging stations. Now of course gas stations don't always have fully occupied pumps and that's the point, so that almost whenever you arrive, there's a free pump available. Replace all the cars on the long-distance highway with EVs and you'll need a service station about an order of magnitude larger in size (i.e. your typical 12-pump gas station [wisegeek.com] becomes a parking lot with over 100 chargers [blogcdn.com]). Hydrocarbon fuels have their advantages and high energy density is one of them. The problem isn't the fuel itself, it's the source. If we made hydrocarbon fuels (e.g. dimethyl ether [wikipedia.org]) from electricity in a carbon-neutral way, you could view them as a very dense chemical battery with pretty much infinite cycles, no charge loss, insanely quick recharge times and all support infrastructure already in place.
        • by fyngyrz (762201)

          Now of course gas stations don't always have fully occupied pumps and that's the point, so that almost whenever you arrive, there's a free pump available.

          Well, there's likely a pump available. It isn't generally going to be free. Tesla charging stations, however, at least for the time being...

          • by brambus (3457531)
            Tesla superchargers are free because there's not that many of them around and the Model S is incredibly expensive, so there's markup left over for them to do this. Believe you me that once they start rolling out the "el-cheapo" (well, still Mercedes/BMW-type money) model and start producing in large volumes, it won't be free no more.
            • by fyngyrz (762201)

              Yep, most likely that'll be exactly how it goes.

              However, right now, it's kind of fabulous. :)

              • by brambus (3457531)
                Oh sure, but then, if you can afford a $70000+ car, fuel costs aren't probably all that much of an issue for you anyway.
                • by Richy_T (111409)

                  But if you can afford a 70k car, you probably also value your time a bit more highly also. Just something to consider.

            • by putaro (235078)

              Superchargers aren't "free" - you pay $2K for access and then it's "free" for the lifetime of the car. This guy thinks that Tesla actually makes money on the program [seekingalpha.com]

              • by brambus (3457531)
                The article is neat, but I find the author is somewhat overoptimistic in assuming that 75% of the gen 3 model will be supercharger enabled. $2000 extra on a car that costs $70000 base is hardly going to break the bank. But on a car that costs less than half of that, it can significantly tip the scales of buyer choices. They're not the penny-pinching culprits that the sub-$20k market are, but still, $2k for an option of questionable use frequency is going to make a lot of people scratch their heads. Also, as
                • by putaro (235078)

                  Also, as they proliferate, they're going to have to deal with vandalism. A gas station is a neatly concentrated resource with oversight, security and even they still get vandalized.

                  Don't whiz on the electric fence!

                  Things like pricing can always be messed with. I think the maintenance issue, as the network grows, will become challenging. We'll see, though.

                  • by brambus (3457531)

                    We'll see, though.

                    I agree. I'm skeptical they can make it work at scale, but hope for the best, after all, I too enjoy the quiet of driving my hybrid in EV mode.

                  • by mjwalshe (1680392)
                    vandalizing HVAC can often be fatal (if your lucky you are killed instantly) those "danger of death signs" are not joking
        • by w_dragon (1802458) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @09:38PM (#47725529)
          The only places you need quick-charge station are places where people will be traveling long distances. Most of the time people will charge overnight at home. Most highways have areas where you could easily build a huge lot with rapid chargers. I suspect the larger issue most places will be finding and transporting enough power to charge perhaps hundreds of cars at one time.
          • by brambus (3457531)

            The only places you need quick-charge station are places where people will be traveling long distances.

            Which is why I said "long-distance highway". I'm quite aware that with EVs you wouldn't want to do all of your charging on public charge points (in fact, that's another big problem with EVs in urban areas without private parking, but it's besides the point subject here).

          • by EETech1 (1179269)

            So...

            What would 100 Tesal owners talk about while they waited 30 minutes for a fill-up?

            No... No... No!!!
            My car is the most awesome car in the world...

            Oh. Elon... He makes the best rockets too ya know... dummass NASA pork...

            Did I mention My car is the better than your car?

            So... What kind of gas mileage do you get?

            I'm so glad we have this place to hang out and talk Tesla...

            • Why would they talk at all ?
              According to the register's review the Model-S has just about the most awesome sound system ever built into a car.
              I can tell you, if I had one (and man I want one !) and I was in a super-charger station, I wouldn't be talking to anybody - I'd be cranking up some Twisted Sister at max volume and rocking the damn casbah !

        • by aXis100 (690904)

          If everyone starts driving EVs, they wont all need to charge at a charging station. Most people will be charging at home overnight, it's only the long distance commuters (maybe 10%) that will need to charge on the go.

          Seems like a workable solution.

          • by brambus (3457531)

            If everyone starts driving EVs, they wont all need to charge at a charging station.

            Which is why I said "long-distance highway". I'm quite aware that with EVs you wouldn't want to do all of your charging on public charge points (in fact, that's another big problem with EVs in urban areas without private parking, but it's besides the point subject here).

            • by Rei (128717)

              (in fact, that's another big problem with EVs in urban areas without private parking, but it's besides the point subject here).

              It's also irrelevant. Even if everyone was suddenly sold on the concept of EVs, it would take decades first to be able to ramp up production to match that of gasoline cars, and then to phase out all of the gasoline cars on the road. It should be obvious, yet someone seems to pass right over EV opponents, that the first adopters are going to be those for whom it best suits their situ

              • by brambus (3457531)

                building power outlets

                But that's the thing, an EV charge point is not just a power outlet. You need a billing system. You need a security and safety system. For fast-charges you need a high-power AC-DC converter substation. It's not just the outlet you have in your garage.

                in my experience

                Your experience is different from my experience.

                • >>in my experience
                  >Your experience is different from my experience.

                  And THIS ladies and gentlenerds is why anecdotes are scientifically useless - because there is ALWAYS a counter-anecdote that says the exact opposite... ALWAYS.

                  • by brambus (3457531)
                    Agreed, I don't like anecdotes and I wasn't the one who used an anecdote to buttress my points. My response here was to simply show that the argument being presented is a personal anecdote.
          • by mjwalshe (1680392)
            and guess what that does to the load on the grid its not like the USA's electricity gird is exactly up to European standards
        • by Kjella (173770)

          Replace all the cars on the long-distance highway with EVs and you'll need a service station about an order of magnitude larger in size (i.e. your typical 12-pump gas station becomes a parking lot with over 100 chargers). Hydrocarbon fuels have their advantages and high energy density is one of them.

          Assuming you know you're going on a long trip and start out with full battery you should have a 250 mile range starting out. Top it off with 150 extra and you can go 400 miles with half an hour of downtime, I don't know about you but I wouldn't drive that far in one stretch anyway, so it would be taking up a parking spot while I eat anyway. Sure, technically it's more tanking and less parking but the car takes up the same space anyway.

          Also most of the time most people (who consider getting an EV anyway) wil

          • by brambus (3457531)
            And what if I don't know? And even if I do know, why should I need to worry about prepping the car a day in advance for the trip? What is this, the 1960s? And if I do decide to make a detour, why should I have to worry about range and whether I'm gonna be able to limp back to the nearest public charging point? And once I'm there it may not be the type I need for a fast charge, so settle in boys, this is gonna take a few hours. That's why I think a good efficient gasoline or diesel car or even range-extended
            • >Like I said before, the fuel isn't the issue, it's the source of the fuel. Make that source zero CO2 and the need for EVs disappears.

              You are aware that burning gasoline is a massive (I mean a SERIOUSLY masssive) source of CO2 in and off itself right ?

        • by evilviper (135110) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @11:33PM (#47726125) Journal

          Replace all the cars on the long-distance highway with EVs and you'll need a service station about an order of magnitude larger in size (i.e. your typical 12-pump gas station becomes a parking lot with over 100 chargers).

          Complete brain-damaged nonsense. With fossil fuels, you HAVE TO fuel-up at a station, every single time.

          With electric, MOST people will fuel up, slowly, overnight, at home.

          In addition, gas stations MUST be large and separate facilities you have to go out of your way to drive to/from.

          EV charging stations can be (and ARE) just regular parking spaces with a small device at one corner. That means you just stop for your normal food and restroom breaks, and incidentally, your vehicle is getting fueled up with no extra time or effort from you.

          • by brambus (3457531)

            With electric, MOST people will fuel up, slowly, overnight, at home.

            I was talking about long-range driving, i.e. by definition more than a pack can support. That's the designated target use of the supercharger network.

            In addition, gas stations MUST be large and separate facilities you have to go out of your way to drive to/from.

            No, they don't have to be large. The only reason they are large-ish is because they often double as convenience stores. Remove that, make the station just the pumps with card paying and they can be incredibly compact. Most of the time you also don't have to drive to and from them - they're placed conveniently along routes most people take frequently, so typica

            • Actually no ... the underground storage tanks are very large and necessitate a relatively large footprint for the station (the tanks cannot be under a road or building) ... regardless of the presence or absence of any kind of retail space.
            • by eepok (545733)

              This is just PR for Elon Musk and Tesla. This is not the future. The plug-in EV is not the future of transportation.

              I work for a major university system in California. Our job is to get scope 3 commuter emissions to zero by 2050. We finally had the real-life conversation about the viability of plug-in EVs being the savior to our conundrum and, boy, was everyone happy to say what they had researched and observed...

              The first thing you have to realize as a workplace who wants to support plug-in EVs is that, in

          • by Rei (128717)

            Not to mention that they can be a loss leader. 250Wh/mi at a commercial power rate of $0.08/kWh is two cents per mile. So a 150 mile charge is $3. There are lots of businesses that would pay $3 to keep a potential customer there for half an hour, esp. if said potential customer will likely feel appreciate and that "he owes them". Charging can also be "free with purchase", and businesses can limit the charge rate if $3 for a half hour chage is too steep of a loss leader for them.

            All this ignoring the green c

        • by Cyberax (705495)
          Look at a typical service station on I-95 or I-5. They typically have a large parking lot, so people can leave their car and go eat something. So simply electrifying some of the parking lot spots would be quite enough to replace the pumps.
          • by brambus (3457531)
            And how much would that cost? At present building a parking lot is pretty much the cost of pouring the asphalt. You're proposing we turn a lot of those parking spots into pretty expensive charging stations with safety systems, billing systems and presumably security systems (to avert vandalism). And given the low cost of charging and resultant very tiny profit margins for the facilities providing the services, would it be economical for them to do so?
            • by drinkypoo (153816)

              You're proposing we turn a lot of those parking spots into pretty expensive charging stations with safety systems, billing systems and presumably security systems (to avert vandalism).

              Don't make them superchargers, just make them chargers. It will still provide range extension. The billing will be contracted away, if in fact the whole system is not. There is already parking lot security.

              • by brambus (3457531)
                There's two types of parking spots:
                - public parking spots are extremely cheap to build - basically involves pouring asphalt or concrete. Adding any charging & billing infrastructure to this will severely impact the cost to build.
                - paid for parking spots are a little more pricey, requiring billing infrastructure already, but people don't want to stay there for very long (because it's paid), so fast-charging is required. For example, to top off a 24kWh Leaf takes about 8 hours on a 240V/16A socket, or a
                • by drinkypoo (153816)

                  public parking spots are extremely cheap to build - basically involves pouring asphalt or concrete

                  Uh no. It involves leveling and lowering the site, backfilling with a proper bed, laying asphalt or concrete (asphalt if you're smart, due to its repairability) and then typically also doing some landscaping. There's curbing, there's permitting, there's drainage which you've ignored completely and which I'm glossing over which might cost as much as laying the surface itself... Adding some conduit, wiring (which can be Aluminum since it's just going to lie there) and some meters does significantly add to the

        • by Rei (128717) on Friday August 22, 2014 @06:30AM (#47727513) Homepage

          Now of course gas stations don't always have fully occupied pumps and that's the point, so that almost whenever you arrive, there's a free pump available.

          That actually doesn't help your argument any. The longer it takes to fill up, the more you smooth out the random demand fluctuations.

          Let's say the time per pump is 5 minutes and the time per charger is 30 minutes, so we have to build 6x more chargers to service the same number of vehicles (and that you have to build the charging stations more frequently due to the range). So we'll compare a 4 pump gas station with a 24 charger EV station. So let's say that we get the following rate of people arriving (picking some numbers at random):

          1:00: 1
          1:05: 0
          1:10: 6
          1:15: 7
          1:20: 3
          1:25: 0
          1:30: 0
          1:35: 2
          1:40: 1
          1:45: 8
          1:50: 6
          1:55: 0
          2:00: 1

          What happens in these scenarios? First, gasoline:

          1:00: 1 pump in use
          1:05: 0 pumps in use
          1:10: 4 pumps in use, 2 people waiting
          1:15: 4 pumps in use, 5 people waiting
          1:20: 4 pumps in use, 4 people waiting
          1:25: 4 pumps in use, 0 people waiting
          1:30: 0 pumps in use
          1:35: 2 pumps in use
          1:40: 1 pump in use
          1:45: 4 pumps in use, 4 people waiting
          1:50: 4 pumps in use, 6 people waiting
          1:55: 4 pumps in use, 2 people waiting
          2:00: 3 pumps in use, 0 people waiting.

          What about the charging station?

          1:00: 1 charger in use
          1:05: 1 chargers in use
          1:10: 7 chargers in use
          1:15: 14 chargers in use
          1:20: 17 chargers in use
          1:25: 17 chargers in use
          1:30: 16 chargers in use
          1:35: 18 chargers in use
          1:40: 13 chargers in use
          1:45: 14 chargers in use
          1:50: 17 chargers in use
          1:55: 17 chargers in use
          2:00: 18 chargers in use

          With the gas station, 23 people needed to wait, some of them for a rather long time. With the charging station, nobody needed to wait. Despite the fact that the charging is 1/6th the speed, that doesn't actually imply you need 6x more chargers. In the above example, we see that the gas station should have had 8 pumps while the charging station 18 chargers, or 2.25x more.

          More on the other problems with your post in just a second - I just felt that this particular aspect deserved a whole post on its own.

          • by brambus (3457531)

            With the gas station, 23 people needed to wait

            Yeah, but how long on average did their stop take? Of those, 20 people took an overall 10 minutes for the stop, including 5 minutes of waiting and for only 3 it took a total of 15 minutes (10 minutes waiting). So the total time taken to service these people (and top up a lot more range, of course) took 305 minutes.
            Meanwhile, on the charger, all 35 users had to stop for 30 minutes, for a total of 1050 minutes. So even with 4.5x fewer pumps the stop times were overall 3x shorter. Again, the gas station is ov

        • by Rei (128717) on Friday August 22, 2014 @07:03AM (#47727671) Homepage

          As for my other issues with your post.

          1. Actually time yourself going down the highway when you're on a long trip, from the moment you begin to decelerate to begin to get gas, to the moment you're back on the road up to highway speeds, and don't leave out the things people often due during stops long trips (why long trips? more in a second), including bathroom breaks, buying something at the convenience store, cleaning the windshield, heading over to a nearby restaurant to grab a bite to eat, whatever. Time a number of different stops on a long trip and average them out. You'll find they're a lot more than 5 minutes. EVs have all of that extra stuff too, mind you, but a lot of them can be done while charging, and even for the other stuff, you're adding a constant overhead, which reduces the ratio of the non-constant aspect (the actual filling itself).

          2. Why constrained to long trips? Simple - because people don't stop at charging stations when they're not on long trips. It's pointless. You charge at home, and maybe when parked at other places like work or a mall if there happens to be a plug near you. It's a great inconvenience of gasoline cars which EVs don't have that one must regularly waste time at gas stations in their daily lives regardless of how long trips are. Overall gasoline car drivers waste a lot more time "filling up" than EV drivers. (and if you disagree and think the mere act of plugging and unplugging gives the edge to gasoline drivers somehow, then that still doesn't help with the wireless EV charging that's getting a lot of focus now, where you merely have to park and you start getting charge)

          3. The page you linked for dimethyl ether said nothing (that I noticed) about generation from just electricity and, say, air/water. It did say that in the lab it can be made from cellulosic biomass (although it should be noted that no cellulosic fuel techs have thusfar worked out at a commercial scale). Let's just say you can do that, and that you get the 1000 gallons per acre-year reported for switchgrass.That's 0,93 liters per square meter-year. It's reported at 19,3 MJ per liter, so we have 18MJ per square meter per year. Let's say we lose 5% of this to distribution, and then burn it in a car running at a typical 20% average efficiency (peak is significantly higher, but peak isn't what matters). We have 3,4 MJ per square meter per year.

          Now what if we ran EVs on solar panels on the same land? Let's say the solar farm is 50% covered with solar panels and gets a capacity factor (clouds, night, etc) of 20% and a cell efficiency of 20%. 1000W/m, so 20W/m electricity is produced on average. That's 20 joules per square meter per second, so 631 MJ per square meter per year. We reduce it by the average US grid efficiency of 92% and an average wall-to-wheels EV efficiency of 80% and we get 465 MJ per square meter per year. 136 times as land-efficient as the biofuel alternative

          Now let's say we leave out all of these lossy bioprocesses behind and generate some sort of biofuel straight from electricity at a very unrealistic 80% efficiency (most processes for realistic fuels are way lower), plus the same generous 5% distribution losses, and that it's afforable. And let's say that they all burn their fuel at an impressive 40% efficiency (even fuel cells, while higher in peak efficiency, generally can't do that tank-to-wheels in real-world vehicle usage). Thus we get 192 MJ per square meter per year, 41% that of the EV. Are you really comfortable with plastering 2.4 times as much of the earth's surface with solar panels? Or 2.4 times more wind turbines, 2.4 times more dammed rivers, 2.4 times more nuclear power plants and uranium mining, etc? Is that, in your view, an ideal solution, even in this comparison highly biased in favor of fuels versus electricity?

          Electricity is the universal energy currency, and we shouldn't be wasting it converting it between different forms needlessly. Not only does it mean a dramatically worse impact on the planet, it also

        • by Type44Q (1233630)

          If we made hydrocarbon fuels (e.g. dimethyl ether [wikipedia.org]) from electricity in a carbon-neutral way

          Insert Scottish voice:

          We can directly convert energy to mass, Captain!!

          (Yes, I knew what you meant.) ;)

          • by brambus (3457531)
            Yeah, in fact, Star Trek's technological optimism is something that always gives hope - that we as humans will overcome our fear of the dangerous "new fire" and learn to harness its power while controlling its risks. In fact, the warp core's theoretical power output should easily dwarf the most dense nuclear power plants we have on Earth, yet the characters in the story were calm living within spitting distance of it, despite us having seen on the show numerous times that it could all go horribly wrong (Com [youtu.be]
    • by fermion (181285)
      It is 500 miles from Galveston to Oklahoma City. That is 10 sites if placed every 50 miles along the major highway. That means they could have a major traffic area of Texas wired for the Tesla with six port charging stations in less than four months

      There a seven Buc cees flag ship stores, where everyone in Texas stops for at least a half an hour to get gas and a Dr. Pepper Icee. That is three months to wire one of the most popular tourist traps. The other locations may not be big enough to hold a char

    • Re:That's not quick? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by mikeiver1 (1630021) on Friday August 22, 2014 @01:52AM (#47726565)
      Having just completed a 6 charger installation I can tell you that the digging is the hard part. In our case it was a little over 3 weeks start to finish due to allot of landscaping and blacktop work as well as installing a dedicated half mega Watt transformer complete with piping to the utility service box some 90' under a road that we could not disturb. On the technical side, the prints are fairly detailed and the charging stations and controllers (one charge controller per pair of stations) are well engineered. The insides are modular and have a liquid cooling system for the 12 charge packs. Each charge cabinet is fed with 3 phase, 480VAC at 175Amps. The output of the controller can be as high as 410VDC at 120Amps per charge station. Of course I doubt it ever really gets there. Ultimately, for the electrician, it is a simple install and nothing to technical.
      • by Rei (128717)

        I'm assuming that's not a 30 minute Tesla fast charge station, since that's only 50kW.

        The two issues I have the most interest in are 1) whether they use some sort of battery buffer to balance loads on the grid connects (otherwise I think the utility company won't be very happy with the unpredictable megawatt drains ;) But maybe the utility company is handling balancing on their side), and 2) how cooling on the charger is handled. Just simple resistance calcs show that once you get to really high power char

        • by mjwalshe (1680392)
          yes I thought that a high speed charger would also need to hook up the car to a cooling loop so that you didn't blow the battery pack up
    • I was thinking the same thing - I'm CERTAIN that building a traditional gas station (including those giant underground storage tanks) takes longer than that !

    • by Ol Olsoc (1175323)

      It took 11 days to install the six charging stalls in Goodland, Kansas. If you thought it was a quick process to build a Supercharger station, you were clearly wrong.

      seems quick to me

      I was thinking the same. It takes a whole lot longer, and some really huge holes in the ground to build a petrofuel station.

      And considering the environmental damage that can do, that supercharger station looks like a pretty good thing.

    • by pepty (1976012)
      But it probably took another 30 minutes to arrange for a puff piece in Slashdot to promote Tesla's charging stations. Let's talk instead about how fast a Tesla's battery degrades if you use superchargers at 200 amps+ as opposed to your home charger.
    • by mjwalshe (1680392)
      I suspect the main constraint is how long the process of providing HVAC power from the power company takes
  • Gas station (Score:5, Insightful)

    by evilviper (135110) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @08:38PM (#47725271) Journal

    It took 11 days to install the six charging stalls in Goodland, Kansas. If you thought it was a quick process to build a Supercharger station, you were clearly wrong.

    And for comparison, just how long does it take to build a gas station?

    • by thegarbz (1787294)

      Who cares. I'm still interested why someone thinks anything taking 11 days is a "long" process.

      Then there's the whole scope of what they are looking it. Yeah 11 days to build it. How long to design it? Last time we proposed a new 200kW load on our electrical grid the grid owner wanted 6 months notice so they could conduct a feasibility study. It took us more than 11 days of organizing just to agree on a date for commissioning that suits all parties.

      11 days is a blink of an eye for most projects involving co

    • I've seen a gas station go up in a week - its pretty much all modular.

    • by trawg (308495)

      And for comparison, just how long does it take to build a gas station?

      A great question; I suspect it's a while.

      Certainly to get rid of a gas station - at least in Australia - is a big deal. There have been a few removed from my area in the last couple of years; I was amazed that the sites sat empty for so long (premium real estate!) but then discovered that there are regulations from our EPA about how they need to be cleaned.

      I think it's a minimum of one year before they can be "reclaimed" for other use. I suspect an electric charging station doesn't require that kind of ove

  • ... I think the record for a large project is 6.

  • Meanwhile I can put 500 miles worth of fuel in my car on almost any corner of the city in about 4 minutes.
  • by Streetlight (1102081) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @10:45PM (#47725891) Journal
    The second referenced article says that Goodland, Kansas, is in the NE part of Kansas. This town is in the North West part of Kansas only a few miles - about 20 miles - from the the Colorado Border. Maybe the authors can't count days as well as read maps, so the article may be wrong.
  • The second referenced article said Goodland, KS, is in the North East part of Kansas. Goodland, Kansas, is in the North West part of Kansas and is about 20 miles from the Colorado border on Interstate 70. I wonder of these writers can count days as well as they read maps.
  • by kriston (7886) on Friday August 22, 2014 @01:40AM (#47726523) Homepage Journal

    Thirty minutes is ridiculous. That is not "rapid" ANYTHING.

    The only real solution is to streamline the process of swapping out battery packs, or, ideally, hydrogen fuel cells.

    This is where hydrogen fuel cells really make sense. They are the ultimate battery pack. They are interchangeable modules. You stop at a filling station and replace your depleted fuel cell with a full one in fewer than five minutes.

    I know Tesla has a battery pack replacement service, but it really needs to be affordable and streamlined and not require expensive robotics.

    NOBODY wants to wait thirty minutes for "rapid recharge." The money spent on this infrastructure should, instead, be spent on optimizing the use of hydrogen fuel cells. They are the ultimate battery and they don't wear out.

    • by itsdapead (734413)

      Thirty minutes is ridiculous. That is not "rapid" ANYTHING.

      To be fair, the electric model is that most of the time you'll top up overnight (OK, that raises its own issues), and the only time you'll need a charging station is if you're on a road trip, in which case a 30 minute refreshment and potty break every couple of hundred miles isn't such a bad thing.

      If, however, there is widespread uptake of electric cars, then it will start to become apparent that, even with demand reduced by home charging, you need one hell of a lot of 6-bay superchargers to match the thr

    • by coofercat (719737)

      ...and do what in the meantime? Hydrogen isn't piped around the city or country *at all*, at least electricity is - so right now, today, you can use it. You could be waiting 5 years, 10 years or longer for the hydrogen economy to be properly viable. Besides, it's not like doing any of this slows down any of the work on getting fuel cells to work sensibly.

      I agree the tech has a while to go before it fully replaces petrol/diesel, but it's a good enough option for a lot of use cases. Therefore, for people who

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      If these hydrogen fuel cells are so wonderful and practical, where are they? The first production fuel cell vehicle is still on the horizon. Also, please explain where this hydrogen is coming from, since our present production is typically very dirty.

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday August 22, 2014 @01:45AM (#47726537) Homepage

    This is a straightforward industrial electrical installation. There's a pad-mounted distribution transformer and meter provided by the power company, a weatherproof load center provided by the customer's electrical contractor, and the Tesla supercharger control unit and outlet stations. No big deal to install. There's a comparable installation at every large standalone store.

    That's a small charging station. Here's the build-out of a bigger one. [youtube.com] Black and Veach, which does infrastructure construction for the energy and communications industry (substations, cell sites, etc.) is doing the job. They see it as a lot like building out cell towers. (If you watch that video, you may wonder why the transformers and switchgear are on raised platforms. Probably because there's a flood risk at that location.)

    Installing a gas station's underground tanks, which today are dual tanks with leak detection, is a much bigger job. There's a big excavation, lots of plumbing and wiring, and several different trades involved.

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