Our next casual meetup is Wednesday, 4th November at 6:30pm at:
The Floreat Hotel – Howtree Place – Floreat 6014
There currently are no EV chargers at the Floreat Forum which encompasses the Floreat Hotel, although this precinct is an ideal location for the Town of Cambridge to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to the proliferation of EV charging infrastructure.
Casual meetups are open to everyone including those who have never seen a Tesla before.
It’s an ideal opportunity to meet club members and to also see the cars in the flesh which we are all passionate about.
We hope to see you there and look forward to chatting about all things Tesla.
No one would benefit more from a Perth Supercharger than myself,
I live 70kms from the Perth GPO, make the return trip at least 50 times per
year and have free supercharging for life, what’s not to like? Read on.
The two questions I get asked the most when discussing Tesla:
How long does it take to charge? and When will Superchargers be installed in
Perth? The second question is usually asked by people looking at buying a Tesla
but won’t make the move until a Perth Supercharger is installed. This sounds
like a poor excuse as most owners can easily charge at home in Western
Australia, but unfortunately the media continually promoting the misconception
of DC fast charging being the be all and end all of owning an electric car has
completely misinformed the public.
Superchargers are intended for placement on highways between
built up areas. In extremely high population regions in Europe and Asia they’re
also placed in city areas due to the lack of home charging, WA barely has that
problem. Yes, there are a small handful of Perth drivers with no access to home
charging, but there’s also no shortage of AC charging outlets at shopping and
At the moment the one and only Supercharger site in WA is
the bank of 6 near the Eaton shopping complex 170kms south of Perth, this is
well chosen location that provides a link to many towns all the way to Augusta.
The second Supercharger site planned for Williams will provide far better
access to Albany, Hopetoun and Esperance. When Tesla install more at a later
date the most useful locations would be approximately halfway to Geraldton and
on the way to Kalgoorlie, this is where drivers need charging that only
requires a 15-20 minute stop rather than the 2-3 hours it currently takes.
So, are there any other reasons not to install Superchargers
in Perth? Yes, one reason that has raised its ugly head in other parts of the
world from time to time and is starting to happen on the East coast of
Australia is a handful of Tesla owners that don’t understand (or by some
reports don’t care) about supercharger etiquette, these owners paid for a Tesla
and will use a supercharger when they have a carport and charge point at home
only 5kms down the road. There are also a handful of owners that park in a
supercharger bay without even plugging in just so they can secure a prime
parking spot while shopping, this sort of behaviour soon spoils the EV
experience for those visiting the area that genuinely need to charge.
If Tesla do install supercharger sites close to Perth, it is
areas next to the highway near Joondalup, Mundaring and the Baldivis service
stops that would offer a solution which will benefit all drivers.
When people discuss driving from coast to coast in Australia
they often say we’re driving the Nullarbor. Before the road was completely sealed
in the mid 1970s it was at best a challenging experience, at worst a mighty
test of patience for those who didn’t plan for tyre and suspension issues along
the way. These days the road is fairly good, the biggest challenges are rapid
temperature changes, the often relentless wind and the flies.
As a matter of reference the Nullarbor Plain is an area
located between the towns of Norseman and Ceduna, these two towns are 1200kms
apart by road although the true treeless part (that still has a random small tree
along the way) is mostly between the West Australian border and the Nullarbor
roadhouse in South Australia, for this exercise an across the Nullarbor drive
is between Perth and Adelaide via the shortest route of 2724kms.
The first time I drove across the Nullarbor was in 1992, in
the past 3 years we’ve driven it 3 times in an electric vehicle. It’s an
interesting adventure charging from 3 phase outlets and answering questions
from curious tourists, the journey is not difficult at all, it just takes planning
and patience. Driving these long distance trips with charging downtime also
provides plenty of opportunity to think of the possibilities of where to
install DC chargers and what charging speeds would be best. The installation of
equipment that reduce charging time from multiple hours down to 15-20 minutes
is now essential, EV owners are no longer just the early adopters who enjoy a
challenge, EVs are now being purchased by Australians that require the best
possible experience from day one.
So where to place the chargers with regards to spacing? By good fortune this is fairly easy if all the locations get on board EV charging, the average distance between charge locations is 182kms with largest gap being 241kms on the Balladonia-Cocklebiddy leg a road that is reasonably flat and easy on driving range. Of the 14 most versatile charging locations only 4 are privately operated off grid sites, the remaining 10 are gazetted towns, the amount of electricity available at each site is a relevant but separate issue that you can read about here, chargers need to be placed where there are toilets, water and shelter.
There are two obvious exclusions from this list, one is the
mid-sized coastal town of Ceduna, on that section of road Penong and Poochera
have more useful spacing, no doubt Ceduna will get DC charging as some stage.
The second location is Border Village 12kms from Eucla, despite being more
active with tourists Border Village has a privately operated and at this stage
very weak electricity supply compared to Eucla. I wouldn’t rule Border Village
out as eventually competition will see both locations having DC chargers. You
will note I have included both Mundrabilla RH and Eucla, which only has a gap
of 65kms. Unfortunately this is only alternative without having a gap of at
least 262kms, it’s also the section of road that has consistently strong winds.
How powerful would the Chargers need to be? From a
marketing exercise 350kw would appear to be the first choice, drivers looking
to switch from petrol to electric often still have the mindset that 5 minute
refills are essential, in theory a 350kw charger could provide 182kms of range
in 6 minutes, in reality very few drivers will need it. Personally I see 150kw
chargers as being the better choice for at least a few years, 150kw would
provide 182kms of range in approximately 15 minutes, to me that’s a far better
use of equipment while barely adding much time to the overall trip.
To summarize: installing DC chargers across the
Nullarbor is nowhere near the impossible task many believe it to be, it’s
certainly a challenge but nothing like the challenge that has gone into building
the roads and oil based fueling infrastructure already in place across this
isolated part of Australia. Up until now it hasn’t been necessary as very few
electric vehicle owners need to make the trip, but as electric transportation
rapidly becomes mainstream in the same countries that build Australia’s car
it’s now become a matter of urgency to change the mind sets and car buying
habits of many Australians.
It often gets asked on social media forums and at electric vehicle displays why off grid EV charging is not being built. The answer is: it will be eventually, it’s not technology holding it up, nor lack of renewable energy available, it’s frequency although not in terms of electricity but in terms of traffic flow.
Many EV drivers are already charging at home from off grid electricity systems, this is cost effective because of two important points; firstly they’re sharing the power generation equipment with general household usage thus sharing the equipment cost; also they are only using around 20% of the vehicles battery per day, 50% at most, this means they can delay charging until excess electricity is available.
With home charging it really isn’t that difficult to install
a suitable off grid electricity system without too much overbuild, for a
commercial site on a country road it’s vastly different. The random nature of
traffic flow makes sizing a suitable generation system without massively
overbuilding very difficult. On an average day in 2022 a regional roadhouse may
get 4 electric vehicles stop to charge, that is zero to one car some days and
10 cars on other days, add in long weekends and school holidays and the EV
traffic flow could be far higher. It’s not too difficult to install enough
chargers for the busiest day but having enough electricity production and
storage to charge those EVs would require a generation and storage system that
would spend the best part of a week completely under utilized, it’s near
impossible to make a business case from that.
Here is a very rough example to show why: On the busiest day 16 EVs stop to charge over a 24 hour period, if each EV consumes an average of 45kWh including charging losses, to provide 720kWh would require a minimum of 180kw of solar panels with the smallest battery set up of approximately 600kWh, and there sits the first issue. Batteries are currently too expensive to be only partly used 5 or 6 days per week, solar is cheap but having such a large solar array that’s producing vast amounts of unused power for most of the week is a waste of resources.
So this is what needs to happen over the next few years;
1. Battery prices need to fall significantly: this is not as big an ask as it seems as off grid batteries don’t have to be Lithium based, off grid locations have no shortage of room, energy density is not important, the best battery is one that provides the best cost per kWh over its guaranteed lifetime in an often harsh environment.
2. One electricity generation system for everything: a shared off grid system is better value for money, but not only a shared system but a smart system where power consumption is carefully managed during busy time periods, water desalination and hot water systems can operate at times of low demand.
3. Charging cost: EV owners will openly say they have no problem paying 45 cents a kWh in country areas but make it 60 cents at peak times and 30 cents when excess power is available and charging habits will change, most Australian drivers are already accustomed to being fleeced by fuel companies on long weekends at least this way they have a chance at cheaper energy.
4. More electric vehicles need to be purchased in Australia: the bigger the flow of traffic in country areas the better the business case for building off grid charging facilities.
What is the short term solution?
A hybrid system of renewables and Diesel: as much as I dislike Diesel being used in passenger cars and pretend 4 wheel drives that never leave the suburbs it still has its place in country areas for another decade. Having a Diesel back up that covers the very busy days but only produces 10-15% of the overall electricity is a far better solution than the one Australia currently has. Most off grid roadhouses are powered close to 100% by fossil fuel (some have a few dozen solar panels) fueling up 99% of the vehicles that stop in with fossil fuels, a step in the right direction is better than no step at all.
1) to avoid driving across a manicured lawn or soft brick paving.
2) to avoid stretching out your charging cable and making it a tripping hazard.
3) the third reason is not so obvious until you arrive at a charging site, especially tourist parks and other accommodation, many 10 and 15amp single phase outlets are positioned in such a way that the gen 2 UMC plugs can’t fit in the outlet due to the pins being positioned at right angles to the cable, the first solution many drivers take is to add an extension cord with a standard inline plug, this solution often creates another problem.
The first option is to try and avoid using an extension
cord, longer cords have a significant voltage drop when charging from single
phase, on an overnight charge that could result in 15 to 20kms less range in
the same charging time. This voltage drop also means unnecessary heat in the
cable that could shorten it’s useful life. The other issue in using an
extension cable is it’s highly likely to add another tripping hazard unless
it’s used wisely. As much as possible avoid using a 25 metre cable to cover a
less than 5 metre span.
So what is the best solution?
Plan A is to always get the car’s charge port as close to the charging outlet without causing damage or inconvenience to the property owners, also the less distance between the car and the outlet the less chance someone will walk through the gap and trip over the charging cord.
If parking close is not possible or the outlet needs an
extension cord with an inline plug use the shortest extension cord possible, if
it’s a 15amp outlet make sure you use a 15amp cord even if your only charging
at 10amps or less, I carry a 10 metre 15amp extension cord that has always
covered the task.
A few more tips:
If the outlet is accessible to the public make sure it can’t
be accidentally knocked out by someone else using the same power board,
especially with outlets that face downwards.
Keep the cord as flat and straight between the car and
charging outlet but add a half coil at the base of each end, that way if
someone catches the cord with their foot there’s a shock absorber at the car
end but most importantly at the power point end.
If you’ve used the shortest cable possible and still have
plenty of excess don’t leave in a pile on the floor, lay it out carefully along
the edge of a wall or somewhere else where clumsy feet can’t get to it.
Contracts have been signed for the Perth Tesla location in the old Renault/Peugeot Dealership on Main Street and Scarborough Beach Roads. Test Drives begin soon from that location, but the service centre may take a little longer to move over.
The new ultra-rapid charging location at Australind/Treeton is nearing completion.
This location will have a pair of 350kW Tritium chargers which will be some of the fastest in WA – Older Teslas are unlikely to see much value over the nearby Supercharger, but Model 3 owners will certainly see better rates here.
Expected to be Australia’s second biggest battery, the proposed 100MW, 200MWh big battery will be bigger than 20 tennis courts, side-by-side, and have the capacity to power 160,000 homes for two hours, and to be housed at the decommissioned Kwinana Power Station.
WA’s energy sector is experiencing a rapid transformation, with a major uptake of largescale renewables and rooftop solar. One in three households have rooftop solar panels and this is expected to rise to 50 per cent of households by 2030.
Increased pressure on WA’s electricity system and inaction could result in significant blackouts in coming years.
The big battery will support integration of more renewable energy and improve grid security. It can be charged during the day, when the sun is shining and energy is plentiful, and discharge this energy when it is most needed during the afternoon and evening peak.
Batteries will help the wider electricity system and the market by ‘smoothing’ demand issues, such as low load, which is encountered when customer solar generation is high but power demand is low.