The Harris Ranch Tesla Supercharger station is an impressive beast. With 98 charging bays, the facility in Coalinga, California, is the largest charging station in the world. But to provide that kind of power takes something solar can’t provide – diesel generators.
And it’s not the only EV station that relies on diesel to produce the power required to charge electric vehicles.
he following was originally published by Wyoming’s Cowboy State Daily as the article ‘Largest EV Charging Station in World Powered By Diesel-Powered Generators’ written by Kevin Killough.
The Harris Ranch Tesla Supercharger station is an impressive beast. With 98 charging bays, the facility in Coalinga, California, is the largest charging station in the world.
In 2017, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said that all Superchargers in the automaker’s network were being converted to solar.
“Over time, almost all will disconnect from the electricity grid,” Musk posted on X, formally known as Twitter.
Superchargers charge vehicles up to the 80% sweet spot in as little as 20 minutes, but to provide that kind of power for nearly 100 bays takes something solar can’t provide – diesel generators.
Investigative journalist Edward Niedermeyer discovered that the station was powered by diesel generators hidden behind a Shell station. Reporters at SF Gate tried to find out how much of the station’s electricity was from the generators, but couldn’t get a response from Tesla.
The station isn’t connected to any dedicated solar farms, which means that absent the diesel generators, the station is powered by California’s grid.
According to the US Energy and Information Administration, in June 2023, natural gas supplied nearly 5,000 megawatt hours of electricity in California, whereas non-hydroelectric renewables supplied about 7,250 megawatt hours.
Energy analyst and writer David Blackmon, author of the ‘Energy Transition Absurdities’, told Cowboy State Daily that the use of diesel-powered generators is not limited to the Harris Ranch station.
He used to shop at a Whole Foods in Houston. The company had installed a charging station in front of the store for its customers.
“It was the best parking spot in the lot, and it crowded out a bunch of handicap spaces,” Blackmon said.
He said there were diesel generators behind the store and whenever someone was using the chargers, the generators would kick on.
Just as these charging stations find they can’t run without some fossil fuel backup, the retirement of a coal-fired power plant in Kansas is being delayed to accommodate the energy demands of an electric vehicle battery factory that’s under construction.
Blackmon said that these stories illustrate well the lack of thought going into the demands that will be placed on the grid with increasing amounts of electric vehicle adoption.
As those demands pile on, US energy policy pushes to remove coal, nuclear and natural gas from the grid.
Blackmon said he watched all summer as the Texas grid, which operates separately from the rest of the county, nearly collapsed with the incessant heat.