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Transportation Power

How Does Tesla Build a Supercharger Charging Site? 190

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

  • 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.

  • 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 Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 21, 2014 @09:04PM (#47725385)

    Heh 30 minutes .. remember that next time you fill your car up in 5 minutes (how many times a week you do that ?? and isnt that for 300 miles worth of gas?)

    Anyway power cables mishandled equals fires and electrocutions etc...
    Lets not forget how large these 30 minute parking lots (assuming you get a spot in 0 time before that) will have to be (compared to a gas station)
    What do you do for 30 minutes. Will safety requirements (insurancecompany involvement) require you to sit in a safety bunker for that time while your wheeled bomb is being filled up??

    Lots of practical issues that will be lots of money making fodder for insurance companies (and government meddling) -- add that to the eventual costs of this technology (and you trendy people at the front end will get it in costly spades).

    Im sure all you using such things for your businesses will pass on the added expenses to your customers.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Thursday August 21, 2014 @09:34PM (#47725517)


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

    Not to mention [] 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.

  • 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

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