SOLAR TODAY November 10, 2012
Tesla Motors in September unveiled the first six charging stations in what the company says will be a nationwide system of solar-powered Supercharger stops for its Model S and succeeding electric cars.
The stations are powered by grid-tied carport systems provided by SolarCity, capable of feeding 100 kilowatts to a Model S — a charging rate sufficient to refuel the car in half an hour to a 300-mile range.
Each system is designed to generate more energy from the sun over the course of a year than is consumed by Tesla vehicles using the Supercharger. This results in a slight net positive transfer of sunlight-generated power back to the electricity grid. In addition to lowering the cost of electricity, this addresses a commonly held misunderstanding that charging an electric car simply pushes carbon emissions to the power plant. The Supercharger system will always generate more power from sunlight than Model S customers use for driving. By adding even a small solar system at their home, electric car owners can extend this same principle to local city driving too.
The six initial locations are in California. Within a year, the Tesla/SolarCity team promise Superchargers in high-traffic corridors across the continental United States, enabling fast, purely electric travel from Vancouver to San Diego, Miami to Montreal and Los Angeles to New York. Tesla will begin installing Superchargers in Europe and Asia in the second half of 2013.
“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.”