Market Mad House

In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule. Friedrich Nietzsche

Market Insanity

Charging the Tesla Semi could Blackout an Entire Town

Recharging the batteries on just one Tesla Semi might blackout an entire town. One Tesla Semi would use enough electricity to power 3,000 to 4,000 homes, energy consultant John Fedderson estimated.

Fedderson also calculated that it would take 10 of Tesla Motors (NASDAQ: TSLA) existing superchargers to charge one Semi, The Financial Times reported. Fedderson made those remarks at a conference in London during the week of 20 November.

If Fedderson’s claims are true recharging just one Tesla Semi would require more electricity than a town the size of Leadville, Colorado. Leadville had an estimated population of 2,693 people in 2016.

One has to wonder how Elon Musk is going to sell that to the public. Taking all the electricity from a region or town just to power a truck would lead to a political backlash. If a Tesla semi caused a power outage during a football game it would undoubtedly cause rioting in some places.

How is Tesla planning to Charge the Semi?

This also leads to two obvious questions that Musk has not yet answered. How is Tesla going to charge the Semi, and where will the electricity come from.

Since it is doubtful that any utility executive would allow a trucker to drain that much juice from the grid, Tesla will have to generate its own power. How, with giant solar farms, wind turbines or coal or natural gas-fired power plants at truck stops?

Musk has talked about giant “megachargers” that would be solar-powered but has not said how they would be paid for. What about backup for the megachargers on cloudy days or times of peak demand?

A related problem is the speed of charging; Tesla has promised that the semi can be fully charged in half an hour. Yet experts like Colin McKerracher of Bloomberg New Energy Finance noted that such technology does not yet exist. Today’s chargers simply are not that fast.

Beyond that, there’s the capacity of the existing electrical grid. The United Kingdom might require six nuclear power stations just to provide the 18 gigawatts of electricity needed if all of Her Majesty’s subjects started driving electric vehicles, National Grid calculated.

It looks as if Musk’s semi might end up creating more problems than it may solve. Public support for electric trucks might evaporate when the potential costs and toll on the grid becomes known.