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Supercharger Randers. Photo by Jesper Berggreen

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Tesla Supercharger Network Expanding Vastly In Denmark

Within what seems like no time at all, several 12–24 stall Tesla Superchargers have come online in Denmark. They come up so fast that they appear on site before any announcements on either local news or Tesla’s own website — or even the maps in Tesla cars are aware of them!

As of now, 16 Supercharger stations are online in Denmark (of which 13 are open to non-Tesla EVs), and another 14 are planned. When I bought my Tesla in 2019, there were 9 stations online. It surprises me that this small country is prioritized this highly. I know we are not close to some of the Supercharger densities in areas of the USA, where a state like Florida (which is comparable in size to Denmark) has about 100 stations, but still, the aggressive growth is astonishing. (Note that while Florida and Denmark may be similar in size geographically, Denmark has a population of ~5.9 million whereas Florida has a population of ~21.8 million.)

There are of course other charging networks than Tesla’s, but since Tesla cars sell in the highest numbers and its network seems to expand the fastest, it is wise to keep an eye on the Tesla ecosystem as a benchmark of things to come. Carolyn Fortuna made a ranking of the various charging networks in the USA. Tesla seems to have looked at this “chicken and egg” situation from the beginning and decided to do both as fast as possible.

The Grid

When Tesla opened its first Supercharger stations in California back in 2012, I remember the vision was to have solar PV and battery storage at the sites. This is not common today (I can think of only one Supercharger station in Denmark with solar covering the stalls), but it raises a very important question: Will the grid be able to handle the load?

I wrote the other day that Denmark has reached 60% electricity generation from renewables, primarily wind, and due to the intermittent nature of this supply, I often think about that concept of battery storage at charging stations. When the passenger vehicle fleet is eventually 100% EVs, the consumption share of total electricity usage will probably be about 5–10%

Screenshot from Energinet.dk on January 15, 2023.

The plan in Denmark is to quadruple the renewable electricity generation, and the grid is slowly being built out to handle these peaks of renewable generation. Denmark is lucky to have good connections to neighboring countries that can take some of that extra power, others countries do not have that privilege. Look at the snapshot above of a real time situation on a windy day, where the country exports 1.6 GW. The price for electricity at this point was less than 10 cents/kWh. It’s obvious that on a day like that, everybody with an EV is incentivised to charge their car at home, but this should be reflected heavily at public chargers and Supercharger stations as well, unless a certain amount of battery capacity is installed.

The Supercharger

Yes, I will use the word Supercharger. Tesla is the leader in this field, and Supercharging is a great term for what happens when you visit one: You charge super fast, it’s super convenient, and it’s super reliable. However, in a place like Denmark, with its amount of intermittent renewable electricity supply, it should be a no-brainer to install large stationary battery capacity at the sites, like Tesla Megapacks. I think that’s exactly what is going to happen. The only reason this has not happened yet is battery cell production constraints. I think it would be wise to follow Tesla’s Megapack production rate over the coming years, or even months.

Well, not all Supercharger stations are available all the time! Photo By Esben Krog Heltoft.

If Tesla wants to keep charging fees competitively low but still have a stable source of revenue, then the capacity to load up on very cheap electricity and just nibble at or sell it back to the grid when prices are high not only helps balancing the grid by being bidirectional, but also enables very high charging speeds for customers on site. One Megapack holds 3.9 MWh of energy, which is enough to charge about 80 EVs with a 75 kWh battery from 15% to 80% SOC! That’s a 12-stall Supercharger virtually fully occupied for up to 5 hours off the grid. Will Megapacks be installed on existing Supercharger V2 and V3 stations? Maybe not, but they certainly will on V4!

The Fear

This being January 2023, with CleanTechnica focusing on EV charging this month, I will say a few words on range anxiety. I can only do that because a have had the fear myself. I never ran out of juice, though. Why? Because I trust (and fear) the indicator in the car that tells me how much range is left. To be fair, especially in some earlier models I drove years back when batteries were tiny, a long stretch of headwind on the highway would often threaten to spoil my ETA — because I had to slow down and/or find a charger to top-up. But range anxiety induced white knuckles on the steering wheel are a thing of the past with battery capacities over 50 kWh in my opinion. You literally have to be completely ignorant to the range indicator, and not have made any effort to learn where chargers are located, to get stranded. In that case, you would be equally likely to get stranded in a fuel-burning vehicle.

I think on this occasion in 2019 was the last time I felt a little bit anxious. Photo by Jesper Berggreen.

Still, for all the people I know who are ICE vehicle owners and tell me they are thinking about buying an EV, the range and charge conundrum is their main concern. But behold, all the people I know who have actually bought an EV, with whatever tiny or large battery, never talk to me about range anxiety. Come to think of it, people with EVs don’t talk that much about their cars with each other. I discussed the recent price cuts by Tesla with a colleague the other day, and she said her husband was willing to trade in their 3-year-old Hyundai Kona EV for a Model Y now, but she refused. “Nothing wrong with the Kona,” she noted, and she highlighted that it was dirt cheap to service and run.

The Future

I would highly recommend watching Jordan Giesige’s video on Megacharging where he gets into the nitty-gritty, going all the way from the decade-old Tesla Supercharger V1 to the coming V4 as well as the alleged semi-only Megacharger:

 

 
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Written By

Jesper had his perspective on the world expanded vastly after having attended primary school in rural Africa in the early 1980s. And while educated a computer programmer and laboratory technician, working with computers and lab-robots at the institute of forensic medicine in Aarhus, Denmark, he never forgets what life is like having nothing. Thus it became obvious for him that technological advancement is necessary for the prosperity of all humankind, sharing this one vessel we call planet earth. However, technology has to be smart, clean, sustainable, widely accessible, and democratic in order to change the world for the better. Writing about clean energy, electric transportation, energy poverty, and related issues, he gets the message through to anyone who wants to know better. Jesper is founder of Lifelike.dk and a long-term investor in Tesla, Ørsted, and Vestas.

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