Discussing EV Charging with Local Government, what’s best? AC or DC charging

One of the best ways to progress electric vehicle charging is through local government, especially in regional areas, shires and councils are always looking to promote their green credentials but more so will listen intently when it’s pointed out that EVs can boost regional tourism.

So what is the best type of charging for shires and councils to install? Read on to get some ideas.

DC charging – obviously it would be preferable to have as many DC fast chargers as possible, it’s also obvious the total install cost makes this extremely difficult unless the charger is donated to the location or there’s a councillor or CEO who’s determined to see EVs progress no matter the cost, this has happened on occasions but is very rare, that’s where AC charging is a good foot in the door.
AC charging – the clear benefit of AC charging is the total installed cost per kW of charging power, to wire in a 3 phase plug would cost $500 at the most, a Tesla HPWC install cost is $1500 at the extreme end of the scale but generally $300 to $700 each, AC charging will provide up to 22kw of charging power to an early Tesla Model S or 11kw to a Model 3. Compared to a 50kw DC charger with a purchase price of $35,000 minimum and install costs between $5000 and $60,000, dependent on the existing electricity infrastructure, you can see the better value of an AC install. The not so known advantage of AC charging is the lack of red tape holding up the install, an electrician will attend the site, make a decision on the the available power supply and if it’s viable the AC charger is installed and operational within a week. DC chargers on the other hand incur a lot of red tape, once every bureaucrat has had their share of the pie the cost and install time frame has become less than reasonable, no doubt when service stations and fast food stores start installing DC chargers the red tape issue will reduce rapidly.
As much as we would all like to see a rapid roll out of DC chargers, promoting AC charging with shires and councils to get the conversation started is the best approach. Very often once a low cost AC charge point is installed and is getting regular use the possibility of a DC charger later in time gets discussed.

Rob Dean

Upcoming Events for September and the School Holidays

We have a few events in the pipeline.

For September, our scheduled casual meetup is at the Camfield:

1 Roger Mackay Drive, Burswood at 7:30pm on September 2nd in place of our usual AUA Zoom Meetup

We also have a number of events scheduled in the school holidays

Our October Casual Meetup will be at the annual Rotary Como Car Show at Wesley College, South Perth. If you’re interested in showing off your Tesla, get in touch.

This year the show is on Sunday October 4th, from 10am, Public entry $10 adult, $8 conc., gold coin under 18 – all proceeds to Rotary and Wesley charities.

Our other big event for October is our overnight drive to the wheatbelt town of Kulin, home of the famous waterslide, and right in the heart of wildflower country. We’re planning to stay overnight from October 10th to 11th.

We’ll be limiting the organised drivers to 20 for this drive with convoys taking a pair of routes. There is hotel, AirBnB and camping accomodation options.

More information is available at the booking page here

Batteries – Horses for Courses.

There’s never a shortage of comments about batteries whenever renewable energy is a topic of discussion. One battery that always gets a mention is the Tesla mega battery in Hornsdale South Australia, it’s held up as a shining light of success and the question is then always asked “why don’t other Australian states  commission a mega battery?” Without doubt politics plays a part but more importantly just because the mega battery is a success in SA doesn’t mean it will suit all other states or territories of Australia.

The Hornsdale Battery, South Australia

To keep it simple I’ll put batteries into 4 different categories and how they can be useful for one State but not necessarily for another.

Mega Packs such as the Hornsdale battery – The politicians and media who called this a White Elephant back in 2017 have been proved incorrect more than most could ever imagine. The battery’s ability to respond instantly to electricity demand, buying in power at extremely low prices and selling back high is a continual winner for its owners. No doubt this could almost be replicated in some other states with similar electricity production profiles to SA. One thing to remember though is the Hornsdale battery can be likened to the only Taxi in town, add more Taxis and the rewards are less.

Community battery

Community battery packs – At the time of writing Western Australia has 13 community battery packs averaging 460kwh capacity each. It would take approximately 400 community battery packs to equal the Hornsdale battery storage but that comparison is not really relevant as they’re performing slightly different tasks. Firstly the community batteries are soaking up local excess daytime solar energy then feeding it back into the grid at the busy dinner time period; secondly its a great marketing exercise from the State’s power providers. All those very visible community batteries are essentially a billboard, no doubt a few locals in each suburb will have the confidence to install their own home battery if the power providers are seen to be supporting the technology, from then on one or two home batteries in each street soon start a trend as prices fall.

Home batteries – For most West Australians these are seen as expensive, without doubt to make it cost effective the home has to be set up to make full use of a battery/solar combination. If your arithmetic still shows the return on investment is not sufficient then the value of having electricity available 24/7 when the grid fails is priceless.

Home Battery storage

The electric car battery – Although vehicle to grid (V2G) is being trialled in the ACT it’s not critical that this system is up and running immediately, in fact in Western Australia V2G will be far less useful than the Eastern states grid. The most pressing need for the Perth and South west grid is the ability to soak up excess daytime solar, the already high uptake of rooftop solar is increasing month on month. The State’s power grid generates power from Coal, Gas, multiple wind farms and rooftop solar, generation is cheap but matching varying demand with different generation profiles can be a costly exercise for the companies supplying the power. With smart power pricing in times of high solar generation and low consumer demand fleets of electricity vehicles are a great addition to the customer base.

In summary each Australian state will make use of each type of battery depending on their individual needs, for Western Australia the state owned grid operators need to seriously consider the benefits of electric vehicle batteries that are purchased by the vehicle owners but will have a positive impact on the power grid.

Targa South West 2020

This weekend was a milestone for Electric Vehicles with a Telsa Model 3 being the winner of the Targa 130 category in Pemberton on Saturday 8th August. The team of Jurgen and Helen Lunsmann ended the event well ahead of the rest of their field.

Over the years a number of EVs have entered the Targa events in Western Australia with an iMiev, Tesla Model S (non competitive) and BMW i3s enjoying participation. Over recent years Gemtek EV racing have entered the more competitive event with the original Tesla Roadster and now the Tesla Model 3 (thanks to Jon Edwards). With the Roadster the major hurdle was getting enough charge in quickly to stay competitive, this has involved some experimentation with AC charging via a generator.

Tesla Model 3

One of the main issues with using a generator was the use of diesel and the usual comments regarding charging an EV from fossil fuels, as well as needing a faster charge. A comparison of charging an EV via a diesel generator and powering a diesel vehicle can be found here. In order to find a faster way to charge has led to the invention of the ChargePod, a fast DC charger connected to a generator (ideal for remote outback charging) which is also able to be fuelled using waste cooking oil. This year at Targa the ChargePod idea was used which enabled not only the competitive Model 3 to complete all stages successfully, but also allowed the 5 Model 3s’ and the converted EV Proton Ute in the Targa Tour to charge. Another more exciting fast charging option this year was the EV to EV charger, a Kona Electric vehicle is able to divert energy from its battery pack via a DC charger attached to the rear cargo area to the Model 3.

The Targa event in Pemberton consisted of five different stages with multiple runs in each stage: Big Brook; Pump Hill; Northcliffe; Gloucester and Pemberton Town. After the first run the No: 24 Tesla Model 3 in the 130 category already had a 00:15 lead, with the gap lengthening over each run to finally finish with a 04:23 lead (that’s 4 minutes and 23 seconds), Jurgen and Helen were unbeatable by the time they had started the final run. For more details on the days results click here.

Targa Tour included Model 3s’ and an Electric Ute

The next Targa West event is scheduled from 22nd to 25th October with stages set in Ellenbrook, Kalamunda, Toodyay, Chittering, Bullsbrook and Malaga, culminating with the Perth City Sprint on the 25th.

Thanks to the enthusiasm of Florian Popp and the Gemtek team and supporters EV’s are making waves in Rally circles.

AUA With James Locke

At last week’s Ask-Us-Anything, we had a special guest in the form of James Locke, formet President of the Vancouver Island Tesla Owners’ Club, now resident in California. James recently had his 2017 Tesla Model S updated with the new infotainment upgrade (MCU2) along with the latest full-self-driving computer.

While these upgrades are not currently available in Australia, it was great to get a perspective on their value in bringing new functionality to a 3-year-old car. Tesla is quite unique in making these retro-fits available.

You can watch our conversations here:

July Fremantle Meetup

Despite the weather, it was great to see some new and old faces in Freo on the weekend. The “cappucino strip” car park chargers were put to good use, and we managed to take over the roof section of the old synagogue cafĂ©. We also spent some time planning our next road trip – stay tuned for more information soon.