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Charging stations for electric cars running on diesel? Yes, but it is temporary and less polluting

An “ecological aberration”, a “shameless lie”, a “delusional hypocrisy”… For several days, Internet users have not lacked qualifiers for a publication which shows a charging station for electric vehicles in front of a large white box.

The photo is accompanied by a comment which shows the disappointment of its author: “Electric charger powered by a diesel generator… We are the dumbest species on the planet!!! »

This type of publication is shared millions of times on social networks. – Screenshot / Facebook

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 on the photograph, the place where it was taken or its author is never specified. By performing a reverse search of the image on Google, we find that the image has been circulating for several years on many foreign Internet sites with the same assertions about its content.

For you, 20 minutes takes stock of this machine which is much less stupid and polluting than one might think.


If the image is of poor quality, it is however possible to detect what is written at the top of the charging station: Nullarbor, a region in southern Australia. By refining the search with this element, we find the origin of the photograph. It was used to illustrate the article of a website called The Driven and specialized in electric vehicles.

The article in question, published on December 14, 2018, recounts the experiment launched by Jon Edwards, the author of the photograph. The latter is a fan of electric cars and encounters a major 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 . A retired engineer, Jon Edwards has therefore imagined a solution that could solve the problem of very long-distance travel in a country much of which is desert: diesel-powered charging stations.

A less polluting initiative

However, the project is not as aberrant as many comments suggest. Firstly because at the time, the government promised very heavy investments in the sector with the aim of switching half of the national car fleet to electric before 2030, and access for 84% of the population at fast charging stations. These terminals must be connected to the electricity grid, powered by renewable energies, part of which is solar energy.

Not wishing to wait for the implementation of this national system, Jon Edwards worked on his diesel charging station project, while keeping an environmental conscience: his station produces more energy for an electric vehicle than would consume a thermal vehicle with equal mileage. A less polluting solution therefore, and a successful bet according to him and the group of drivers he gathered to test his terminal on different car models.

A new model charged with vegetable oil

Another advantage of its terminal, it would be easy to install in all service stations which would only have to supply it with the fuel they already have. In 2018, Jon Edwards insisted that his prototype was only intended to fill a gap while waiting for a financially reliable model of charging stations running on renewable energies to be deployed.

Patience not seeming 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 of 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 service stations can directly recover the vegetable oil used by their kitchens, or that, stored, of 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 a large part of the desert regions of the country.

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