An image of an electric vehicle (EV) charging station is doing the rounds of social media. It appears that while a vehicle is getting charged by using an EV charging station, the station itself seems like it is powered by a diesel generator. Along with the picture of a bemused Elon Musk, CEO of EV giant Tesla, the viral Instagram post suggests that the diesel-powered charging station defeats the purpose of EVs being environment-friendly and a greener alternative to conventional vehicles.
Newschecker first ran a reverse image search of the picture, which brought us to this article, dated December 14, 2018, in The Driven, an Australian electric vehicle news site.
We learnt from the article that this particular diesel-run charging point was a unique set-up meant for remote, deserted locations that are off-grid and probably won’t have accessible gas stations or EV charging points. This particular “ChargePod”, made with an inexpensive diesel generator and EV charger from Tritium, was built by a retired engineer from Australia’s Perth, Jon Edwards, as a stop-gap, “at least until solar powered stations become the norm”. According to the article, “Edwards stresses that the point is not to offer a diesel-powered EV charger as the final solution, but as a reliable stop-gap until installation of batteries and renewable-powered EV chargers become financially viable.”
This point was reiterated in this article, which stated that the charging station from the viral photo was “devised by a bright spark in Australia for use in the outback because of the lack of EV infrastructure”.
We were further led to a follow-up report in The Driven, which stated that Edwards and his team managed to modify a similar stand-alone charging point to run on biodiesel, as of 2021. “The next version was Biofil, same idea but running on waste vegetable oil rather than diesel. While still not entirely ideal, it is renewable energy, not fossil fuel, and it is carbon-neutral,” the article quotes him saying, hence proving that the “ChargePod” was like a prototype.
We also learnt that EV charging stations are usually powered by whatever the power grid runs on, which might include oil, coal, and natural gas, and in case one is seeking renewable energy, they should look for charging stations that are powered by wind or solar, further confirming that diesel-run EV charging points are not the norm and that the viral post was just about a special case.
The diesel-powered EV charging station seen in the photo was specifically designed as a stop-gap solution for isolated regions, where conventional charging points are scarce.
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