Can the planet’s electrical grid handle the needs of millions of electron-thirsty medium and heavy duty trucks? Not as is, says a white paper report from National Grid, a power grid operator in the U.S. Northeast.
How much juice would the new EV travel centers need?
I don’t get to read scientific studies too often, but when it comes to the power grid, I make time. National Grid’s white paper has been circulating around and has attracted a lot of attention.
It’s the first time a utility operator has come out and said, “Hey, we have issues we need to deal with now, or we might burn out the grid.” The demand by EV chargers to power all the vehicles that would be on the road by 2050 goals is far beyond what you might think.
A facility equivalent to a passenger vehicle travel plaza akin to those on the New York Thruway would draw around 10 Megawatts, the same as two sports stadiums. A mixed-use plaza, with car Superchargers and some truck Megachargers, would pull about nearly 20 Megawatts, the equivalent of a small rural town.
But what about a fully equipped truck stop? National Grid said one of those would require over 30 Megawatts at peak capacity. That’s almost as much as an industrial production complex.
Electric study says an equal amount of tractors and double of amount of box trucks needed for 2050 goals would devastate the grid network
In order to satisfy the needs of the 2050 goals, and taking into account the recent trends of EVs to use regional and intra-regional lanes, the white paper said we would need 25% more Class 7 & 8 tractor-trailers and double the current amount of Class 4, 5, and 6 medium-duty trucks.
Why so many? Well let’s start with charge times. Using the 2022 Hummer EV currently on the market as a prime example of a really heavy electric vehicle at over 9,000 lb, it takes 55 hours at 110 volts, 10 hours at 220V, 1h at 440V per Hummer’s website.
That tank of a vehicle uses the 800 volt architecture and can go 350 miles on a charge, and with a 440V charger, can top up 100 miles of range in ten minutes. Now let’s talk about a few thousand of these a day running through your local WaWa.
EV charging stations would need their own substations connected to high voltage lines to be viable, but could cause issues for residential customers
In the picture above, you see the layout of how the wiring scheme of an electric vehicle travel plaza would work. A high tension power line is tapped by a substation dedicated to the needs of a travel plaza.
How many truck stops are near the power lines in an urban area? Not much room to build out a substation amongst urban sprawl.
Getting enough electric chargers to handle the millions of trucks needed to contain an electric supply chain is going to be a major challenge. Outside industrial areas or major highways near high tension lines, I don’t know how the trucking industry will handle the placement of these vital facilities.
You can read the report and its three page summary by following the link.