Tesla looking to power Australian ‘supercharger’ stations with solar PV

US electric vehicle company Tesla Motors is looking to power its Australian network of EV supercharging stations with solar.

Tesla Superchargers currently allow Model S owners to travel for free between major cities in North America, Europe and Asia – so far there are 231 super charging stations across the world, with over half in the US.

They provide half a full charge in as little as 20 minutes, and are usually located near amenities like roadside restaurants, cafes, and shopping centers, and have between 4 and 10 stalls.

Tesla is due to launch in Australia soon, but is keeping quiet about the details of its plans. The timing of the move is likely to be dependent on Tesla establishing its first service centre in Artarmon, on Sydney’s lower north shore.

But solar is almost certain to be a core part of the California-based company’s strategy and marketing for the first part of the network that will link Sydney and Melbourne, and presumably Canberra

“I’m a big proponent of solar,” Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk said earlier this month when officially launching Tesla in Japan. 

“I think the combination of solar and electric cars can actually work extremely well for a country like Japan. There’a actually enough sun on Japan to completely power Japan with just solar. Many times over.”

And that would certainly be the case in Australia, which has some of the best solar resources in the world, and the highest prices of electricity for residential and business consumers.

“We have done this overseas and we are investigating the possibility locally,” Tesla spokesman Heath Walker said.

RenewEconomy understands that all, or nearly all, of the first group of customers who will take delivery of the first privately owned Teslas in Australia will use rooftop solar in their homes to charge their cars. Walker said this would be cost-effective for the EV owners.

One customer told RenewEconomy he had just added another 3.5kW solar array to boost the rooftop capacity on his Sydney home to more than 7kW. He hopes to prove that this will generate enough electricity over the course of the year to supply both the home and the car. The addition of battery storage will mean less imports and exports back into the grid.

Musk is also chairman of SolarCity, the largest installer of residential solar in the US, which is now bundling solar systems with battery storage, and looking at how they can be also bundled with Tesla batteries – at least using the battery cells for stationary uses.

The $5 billion “giagfactory” to be built in Nevada will also generate more than 100 per cent of its electricity needs with wind and solar.

Top image: Supercharger station, via Tesla Motors

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson