An “ecological aberration”, a “blatant lie”, a “delusional hypocrisy”… For several days, internet users have not been short of qualifiers for a publication that shows a charging station for electric vehicles in front of a large white box.
The photo is accompanied by a comment that shows the author’s disappointment: “Electric charger powered by a diesel generator… We are the dumbest species on the planet!!! »
Shared several million times on Facebook, we find this image on other social networks like Instagram or Twitter, always with the same type of accusations. However, no detail appears in the photograph, the location where it was taken or its author is never specified. When performing a reverse search of the image on Google, we found that the image has been circulating for several years on many foreign Internet sites with the same statements about its content.
For you, 20 minutes takes stock of this machine that is much less stupid and polluting than one might imagine.
If the image is of poor quality, however, you can detect what is written at the top of the charging station: Nullarbor, a region in South Australia. Refining the search with this element, we find the origin of photography. It was used to illustrate the story of a website called The Driven and specialized in electric vehicles.
The article in question, published on December 14, 2018, reports on the experiment launched by Jon Edwards, the author of the photograph. The latter is a fan of electric cars and encounters a big problem: he regularly crosses the Nullarbor Plain, a desert area where truck stops equipped with a charging station for electric vehicles are almost non-existent, or else unsuitable for many vehicles. Retired engineer Jon Edwards envisioned a solution that could solve the problem of long-distance travel in a very deserted country: diesel-powered charging stations.
A less polluting initiative
However, the project is not as aberrant as many comments suggest. First because, at the time, the government promised very heavy investments in the sector with the objective of changing half of the national car fleet to electric before 2030, and access for 84% of the population to fast charging stations. These terminals must be connected to the electrical grid, powered by renewable energies, being part of solar energy.
Not wanting to wait for the implementation of this national system, Jon Edwards worked on the design of his diesel charging station, keeping an environmental conscience: his station produces more energy for an electric vehicle than a thermal vehicle with the same mileage would consume. A less polluting solution, therefore, is a successful bet according to him and the group of drivers he gathered to test his terminal in different car models.
A new model loaded with vegetable oil
Another advantage of its terminal would be the ease of installation at all service stations that would only have to fill up with the fuel they already have. In 2018, Jon Edwards insisted that his prototype was only intended to fill a gap while he awaited the rollout of a financially reliable model of charging stations that run on renewable energy.
Patience doesn’t seem to be the engineer’s dominant personality trait, The Driven tells us in a January 2021 article that Jon Edwards has created a new model charging station that runs on used vegetable oil. A renewable and carbon neutral energy that can replace diesel, with an ingenious integrated refining system for these oils. Thus, the stations can directly recover the vegetable oil used by their kitchens, or stored, from other establishments to supply the generator. After having financed the construction and installation of four models in the region, Jon Edwards hopes that the State will allocate subsidies to his project to equip much of the country’s desert regions.