Tesla Planning Grid Storage As Part Of Supercharger Expansion

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Tesla Supercharger fast-charging system for electric cars

Tesla Supercharger fast-charging system for electric cars

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Buy a Tesla Model S, and you won't need to worry about brownouts. And you could even keep driving through the Zombie Apocalypse.

Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk revealed that little tidbit at a press conference today, where plans were detailed for an expanded network of the company's Supercharger rapid-charging stations.

“We actually have grid storage going on at some of our Supercharging stations,” said Musk, noting that two stations in California currently have 500 kilowatt-hours of combined energy storage—with the potential of “putting out a megawatt if need be.”

And that extended grid storage is “probably” part of the long-term plan for every Supercharger station, according to the CEO. Under the scenario, stationary battery packs take in energy through the week from an overhead solar panel array—which in turn doubles as a shelter from sun or rain.

“The chargers are generating energy cumulatively throughout the course of the week, and it cumulatively adds up to more than what the cars consume,” said Musk. “So it's actually capable of going completely off-grid,” and of continuing to charge cars when the power goes out.

Musk wouldn't exactly where in California those two grid-storage prototypes are, but he confirmed they're in California, and that the grid storage is being planned together with utilities, who have received the plan well—as that excess energy could be fed back into the grid when it's needed, as a buffer to help prevent brownouts or help reduce pollution during off-peak situations.

“Even if there's the Zombie Apocalypse—seems like a popular theme nowadays—you'll still be able to travel throughout the country using Tesla Supercharging system," quipped Musk. "Even if the entire grid goes down, it'll still work.”

**[Ed. Note: Elon Musk's comments may be seen as building on a misconception that the grid is unreliable. Let the record stand: The entire national grid has never gone down, and major regional outages are extremely rare.  Also, zombies are not real.]


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Comments (10)
  1. Really, after all this time, GCR doesn't know the difference between energy in Kilowatt-hours and power in Kilowatts. Come on guys, we can do better.

    The battery packs at the stations are 500 KWH not 500 KW.

    I'm just going to assume that Voelcker stepped away from the editors desk for a spot of tea. :)

  2. Nice that they fixed the KWH. Perhaps I should have mentioned that the MegaWatt should be MegaWatt-Hours as well.

  3. @John, when Musk said they're capable of putting out a megawatt if need be, the context (and what directly followed) was that the system could be used as a grid buffer for power generation, and that they're working with utilities. So a unit of power, not capacity, is meaningful here.

  4. Sorry, My mistake then.

  5. Wait now, Zombies are not real? WTF is this sh*t?

  6. Doesn't burying the battery packs of almost 6 top of the line cars make Supercharger stations a darn sight more expensive?

  7. depends. If that means the station doesn't need grid power dragged out to it. realize a decent sized feeder can get expensive and if they don't have
    to bring that out, it's a savings.

  8. I was unimpressed with Elon's statement. You need charging station every 250 miles on every interstate across the country and 90 of them is not going to do it.

  9. Mr. Ford salesperson. That is the only the case if you plan to drive "non-stop" coast to coast. Most drivers would like to a stop after 8-10 hours of driving. That is about 400 to 600 miles per day. So, overnight charging @ 240/50A is more than sufficient. Most RV camp has the NEMA 14-50 plugs which is 240V/50A. During the day, you only need quick charge once or twice. If they are strategically placed, then you don't always need quick charging everywhere...

  10. @Barry:

    You need charging stations every 200 miles, according to Consumer Reports, not every 250. They Model S range as 200 miles. But, as Barry says, "... 90 is not (likely) to do it.".

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