Disclaimer. After nearly 40 years managing money for some of the largest life offices and investment managers in the world, I think I have something to offer. These days I'm retired, and I can't by law give you advice. While I do make mistakes, I try hard to do my analysis thoroughly, and to make sure my data are correct (old habits die hard!) Also, don't ask me why I called it "Volewica". It's too late, now.

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Friday, June 15, 2018

Zombie Apocalypse chargers

Tesla will start rolling out new superchargers which will be about twice as powerful as existing chargers (200 to 250 kW) , thus cutting the time taken to charge a Model S to 80% from 40 minutes to 20.  These will run off their own solar and batteries and could in principle be off-grid.  Hence Musk's description of them as  ‘zombie apocalypse-proof’.  Nice.  One thing less to worry about.

I'm most definitely not denying Musk's passion to move the world to a fossil-free future, but he's probably also making a virtue of necessity.  These new superchargers will draw lots of power, and a bank of them might require their own substation, plus upgrades to the power lines feeding them.  So solar panels, with batteries to provide power at night, prob'ly makes sense anyway. 

You'd have to have fairly large arrays of solar panels.  Just to charge up one car you'd need 3x250 kw (assuming a capacity factor of .33) or 750 kW minimum, unless of course you only got one car a hour or fewer so that the batteries would have time to charge up.  If the charger is in constant use 24/7, then you'd need at least twice 750 kW, so that there's a surplus to store for night time.  5 kW of solar panels will cover 350 square feet (about 32.5 square metres.)  So 1500 kW of panels would need 10,000 square metres of panels.  Minimum.  That's a square 100 metres by 100 metres, or, putting it another way, 14 suburban house blocks.  Mind you, that would handle 72 Teslas a day, but still.  Hard to fit into a typical urban site,  but fine for sites outside cities.  So my guess is that's where these new version 3 superchargers will be located. 

If you live in a city, you're on your own when the zombie apocalypse comes.

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