Listen to this article
Give us your feedback Thank you for your feedback.
What do you think?
One of Europe’s leading energy consultancies has estimated that Tesla’s electric haulage truck will require the same energy as up to 4,000 homes to recharge, calculations that raise questions over the project’s viability.
The US electric carmaker unveiled a battery-powered lorry earlier this month, promising haulage drivers they could add 400 miles of charge in as little as 30 minutes using a new “megacharger” to be made by the company.
John Feddersen, chief executive of Aurora Energy Research, a consultancy set up in 2013 by a group of Oxford university professors, said the power required for the megacharger to fill a battery in that amount of time would be 1,600 kilowatts.
That is the equivalent of providing 3,000-4,000 “average” houses, he told a London conference last week, ten times as powerful as Tesla’s current network of “superchargers” for its electric cars.
Tesla declined to comment on the calculations.
Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, has previously said the megachargers would be solar-powered but the company has not confirmed whether they will also have a grid connection for when it is not sunny.
Many of Tesla’s current superchargers are powered in part by renewable energy. The company is also experimenting with storage batteries to ease demands on the grid.
Tesla has not yet said when it will begin installing its megachargers but says it will begin deliveries of the truck in 2019.
Mr Feddersen used the example of the Tesla truck to highlight the need for greater debate around how grid infrastructure will need to be adapted to meet demand for electric vehicles.
“There are smart and dumb ways to incorporate this level of capacity requirement into the system, but either way, fully electrified road transport will need a large amount of new infrastructure,” he told the Financial Times.
Other experts in battery technology have claimed that charging a truck in half an hour would require technology exceeding anything available.
“The fastest chargers today can support up to around 450kW charging, so it’s not clear yet how Tesla will achieve their desired charging speeds,” said Colin McKerracher, head of advanced transport at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a consultancy. “One option may be to segment the battery somehow and actually charge different segments simultaneously. This adds additional costs and we haven’t seen anything like that done at anywhere near this power output.”
National Grid, which oversees Britain’s electricity system, has suggested that in the most extreme scenario, electric vehicles could create as much as 18 gigawatts of additional demand for power at peak times in the UK by 2050.
This is the equivalent capacity of nearly six nuclear power stations on the scale of the Hinkley Point project under construction in the south-west of England.
Industry experts believe strains on the system could be reduced by using “smart chargers” that only re-boot vehicle batteries when the grid is able to cope, rather than at peak times, such as after work.