Electric grid truck charging

Something that I came across today that may be pertinent to the ever on going electric vehicle discussions - Grid not prepared for electric truck 'avalanche' | FleetOwner

Tesla were working with CharIN on the charging standards for their Semi, but nobody’s really mentioned who funds/delivers electricity distribution network upgrades needed to support large truck charging stations.

Wasn’t there $73 billion in the infrastructure bill? No idea where that is targeted though.

Tesla is deploying the first Megacharger to charge its Tesla Semi electric truck | Electrek

Besides the delivery network, there will be a huge need for increasing the supply of non fossil fuel power. Microreactors could provide the power. Since they would be located where needed, logistical improvements of the grid – and transmission power losses – would be minimized. Those little reactors are designed to be delivered by truck. That’s appropriate.

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Rolls Royce has proposed 16 Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) in the UK.

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I assume any size of reactor needs ongoing maintenance? I wonder if pods of solar with large battery storage wouldn’t be smarter. Pay all the neighbouring buildings (gas stations, restaurants, malls and whatever other buildings are along highway rest stops) to house solar on their rooves and then store the power into something like the Tesla power cells.

Wasn’t this what Elon originally proposed for the Tesla charging network?

They would need infrequent maintenance. The article cited notes, “They are expected to operate for years without refueling.” The article doesn’t say, but I’d expect the operation to be highly automated – and probably running unattended.

Wonder or want? Did you locate any? Is anyone actually proposing turnkey systems that could reliably provide 20-300 megawatts of power 24x7? Got a URL? How many watts of storage would you provide to ensure constant high-reliability delivery of those 20-300 megawatts? For bad weather in the winter, you might have to run for at least a week with no sunlight. Even if you could, the material costs of those battery and solar cell chemistries would be exceedingly high. But the first step of wondering this is seeing if anyone anywhere is actually developing such a system.

Calculating how many Tesla power cells you would need to constantly crank out 20MW for a week would be a good reality check. A single power call can crank out 5kW instantaneously, and it looks like one power cell has a total capacity around 13kWh. 20MW for a week is 3360MWh. That would be over 200,000 Tesla Power Cells – for ONE of these installations. Your proposal cannot possibly match the power-delivery capability of a microreactor.

In general, solar without massive batteries will destabilize the power grid. And massive batteries means truly massive – an unimaginably large mass of batteries.

It isn’t just the infrastructure, you need to also be able to generate the electricity near-by.

If you are going to refuel 10 trucks at a location, you need constant 10MW of power coming in, 20 trucks, 20MW. In Germany, there are hundreds of trucks passing through the truck parks each day that will need charging.

Also, the limited range, compared to a normal truck, thus repeated refueling - the Tesla rig seems to have a range of 500 miles (+/-) a normal rig in Europe will probably do at least double that, so you will need twice as much charging capacity in a day as you will diesel pumps, and the charging takes much longer.

Take into account the weight penalties of the Tesla truck, it works out at around 21% less carrying capacity than a typical American big rig, and they are a lot heavier than European trucks, in general, so in Europe, the difference would be even higher - maximum road weight is vehicle + load, if the electric vehicle is heavier than a deisel vehicle, that means the cargo capacity has to be dropped in comparison, to keep it under the legal maximum road weigh.

The energy storage density of batteries will need to be increased dramatically, before it can catch up with diesel or petrol, which means that electric lorries will be at a disadvantage for a while to come. It might make sense for deliveries in cities etc. to reduce polution on the “last mile”, but nationwide transport just doesn’t make sense with the technology at hand, yet.

It is a nice showcase, but the efficiencies and the electricty generation needs to be increased dramatically.

John Cadogan does some interesting ballpark figures, based on the limited information Tesla has released:

No one said that it had to be EXCLUSIVELY solar, although you seemed to think it was implied. Any such system would want a connection to the grid too, the goal is just to minimize the draw from the grid until the batteries are depleted… maybe that is only a mere period of minutes so the system can communicate to the local power generating authority that demand has increased. (With the storage giving them time to adapt/adjust to the new load, and it could also be used at the end of charging to help manage the load coming off.)

Also, there is more to maintaining any device than just fuel. Something that has the possibility to explode catastrophically should probably receive at least a weekly checkup. (This probably also applies to a large collection of lithium cells (or probably any other power storage system.) Lithium cells are not the only electricity storage that is possible by the way… and as lithium becomes hard to source, other options might be investigated.

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Fine. Rather than the equivalent of 200,000 Tesla Power Cells, cut the requirement by 50%. You now only need 100,000 power cells for each truck recharging-zone. Do you really think that is feasible?

I asked you to provide links for anyone who thinks such an installation is feasible. Did you find anything anywhere? Anything at all?

You’re assuming such upgrades would be easy. If you’re significantly amping up the grid, you would need serious increases in the grid’s infrastructure. The FleetOwner article above notes, “these interconnection upgrades are expensive and take four to eight years to complete.”

Once the power-generating authority is informed, what is the proposed source for those new watts of power? There is exactly one non-fossil source available for reliable 24x7 power.

None of this is solving the problem – unless you tell us what source is available to address this “new load”. Do you have A SINGLE URL providing a proposal for what you’re suggesting? This is where you need to be paying attention.

Whatever. The point is that those new systems are designed for highly automated monitoring and use.

Please provide links to what you think will be available as a viable alternative. What is the largest solar + battery facility online today? What is the largest one planned to be online in 5 years? 10 years? Specifics, please! So far, you have provided no specifics.

This doesn’t address trucks, but general EV info here (from the same people who are flagging the truck charging issue - my old employer BTW)

This “fact check” article shows several real problems with that format. Who watches the watchmen – who fact-checks the fact-checkers? If I were a HS science teacher, I’d use this article for an extra-credit assignment on critical thinking. Note: all quotes below are from the National Grid article.

“Myth 1” suggests regulation prohibiting EV charging when electricity is in heavy demand (but it says it in a “nice” way):

but “Myth 6” ignores that issue:

When you need to recharge at a service station on a long trip, will the watts be available? Will the wait be 15-20 minutes, or will the wait be hours before demand is lower and supply is higher? Did the writer of #6 even read what #1 said in his myth-busting? So many questions! :smile:
Also note the answer “Myth 7” on this topic:

Why is a comparison between charging ports and an entire gas station valid? Refueling a fossil car takes 5-6 minutes tops. Even the fastest EV recharge is taking 15-20 minutes. 220V charging is taking 3-4 hours, and 110V charging is taking 8+ hours for a full charge.
“Myth #2” tries to debunk the fossil fuel usage for EV recharging:

The source is Table 4 from this 2020 publication. That chart shows that 40% of the NY energy production comes from Natural Gas (another fossil fuel). It also shows that 20% comes from Nuclear. Power Also, the aging nuclear power plants have been shutting down. The 2022 article NY’s fossil fuel use soared after Indian Point plant closure. Officials sound the alarm points out that this cherry-picked refutation is obsolete and invalid. Does it really make any sense for a UK audience to come to any conclusion from this old NY-specific data?

Our conversion to EVs is a complicated issue. It’s far more complicated than a superficial reading of the [UK] National Grid article would have you believe. This won’t be easy, but it is possible. I fondly hope we had a national priority to bring small standardized modular nuclear power stations to facilitate that transition.

Note this is a National Grid US article. It just includes some UK stats.

Your comment about charging EVs and avoiding morning/evening peaks I’m pretty sure will have been evaluated.

A lesser proportion of EV users will use public chargers at any time of the day/night. The majority will home charge as it is cheaper and more convenient. The latter we can smart charge, and pause if margins get tight. As long as the total at any point in time is less than supply, we’re OK. If the same as the UK, there will be quite a bit of demand under contract we can shed before you have to worry about public EV chargers.

So I don’t think #1 and #6 are in conflict.

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My comments were in the context of “Myth #6” from the article, which is about recharging on long trips. The response in the article was about charging at a non-home recharging station. Restricting the charging window for such users would stop them in their tracks.

There’s another down side with the “as long as” comment: power may be available, but there may be higher rates and penalties for people who want to charge at those times. The rates for business EV charging stations are already higher than for home users. All this punctuates what I said earlier: the EV charging scene is inordinately complex. Portraying it with black-and-white “myths” that are internally inconsistent is a disservice to the general public.

As far as home charge being preferred, the Stanford study says that is not the case for the California power grid: Charging cars at home at night is not the way to go | Stanford News . One might argue this is a special case: that California has managed to screw up its electric supply network; I would tend to agree with that assessment. In any case, it emphasizes my point: the EV charging landscape is quite complicated!

Thanks for the clarification. It was very difficult to tell who was what from that article: different myth-busters were using different locales for their “debunking”; it’s problematic to get a “big picture” perspective from that approach. The data that this “myth busting” article presented from the State of New York was particularly egregious. Given that National Grid PLC manages the grid in NY and New England, they should have known (and reported) that much had changed since that 2020 data was published.

As far as a “fact check” articles go, I give this one a D+.

I’ve been out of the industry for a while, but in the NE US they were Electricity Transmission and Distribution plus Gas Distribution, so no generation.

One of the challenges there I guess compared with the UK is fragmentation. So yes, CA or TX may have very different issues to the North East.

On the energy mix we can see it in real-time here. Never found the US equivalent, but they may have similar.

Not much wind here at the moment, so more reliant on gas.

@floatingbones You seem very passionate about this topic while I am not really so passionate. Accordingly I’m not going to spend time trying to find facts or ideas to support anyone’s position. I will point you do a YT channel though, if you’ve not yet visited Matt Ferrell’s channel: https://www.youtube.com/c/UndecidedMF/videos He spends lots of time investigating/promoting various “green” initiatives, and has talked about various energy storage proposals. He seems pretty pro on Tesla though, while I generally am not. And there’s this World's biggest battery with 1,200MW capacity set to be built in NSW Hunter Valley | Energy | The Guardian

You seem very dismissive of the possible problems. What about a terrorist attack (or series of them in tandem) that place bombs at these locations thus basically setting off a dirty bomb. The nice thing of a massive centralized power plant is they have security in depth at a scale that wouldn’t make sense for a whole bunch of small distributed systems.

I don’t know about everybody else, but 20 minutes to get gas? Unless you are also eating a meal at the same time, that seems really long.

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I’m passionate about a certain amount of rigor in discussions. You jumped in with an assertion that solar cells + a battery – quite a battery – of batteries was a viable alternative for a highly-reliable 20MW source for a truck recharging station. At the same time, you were dismissive of the utility of modern micro-reactors to address this problem.

To say this differently: I want to learn something from your postings. If you think that the micro-reactors are not safe or viable, I’d like to see some data why. If you think that your proposed solution is viable, I’d like to know why. One tell-tale: if nobody out there is already advocating your solution – and breaking down the details (with numbers), it’s probably not viable.

Do just a little bit more than that, please. Does the proposed NSW battery installation have sufficient capacity to provide 20MW of power for a week?

I don’t really have any interest in chasing down a YT channel to answer my question. If you had a specific video and a specific timestamp, that would be acceptable.

If you have no idea if what you propose is viable, it would be useful to just say that in the discussion.

This is not the place for an application of the scientific method. If I have the plans to do it, I would be making money from them. I have the idea that populating the country with potentially dangerous nuclear reactors is not a good idea, so I proposed something that might work as a potential better idea. Nothing more. If you’re passionate about going green in any way, you really should pick a few of Matt’s videos and see if they interest you. Most of what he covers is “maybe in the future this will improve x” but he also talks about his own green pursuits in building his new house, etc. As for me, on this topic, I’m out.