I made mistakes calculating how much electricity would be needed for 4 million total USA semi trucks and 40 million large trucks globally. There are also another 40 million light and medium trucks for commercial usage in the USA and another 120 million consumer pickup trucks and SUVs. Regular people use trucks far less than commercial trucks and they often are not carrying heavy loads. They would use less fuel or energy because of lighter usage even though there are more trucks for regular consumers.
I was correct up to 24 electric semi trucks charged at four stalls and their were six megapacks then the peak and overall electricity drawn would be equal to a 400,000 square foot commercial office building. This would draw 24 megawatt hours per day at 1 megawatt all day. This is peak electric draw.
If there were 500 electric semi trucks charging at a major distribution point then all of the power of a nuclear reactor or two coal plants would be needed for the peak load if all trucks were charging at the same time for a half hour.
However, using all of the power of a nuclear reactor for a year is 8.76 TWh of power per year. This would handle 24000 electric semi trucks driving charging every day. However, this would be for 500 miles of charge every day. The most heavily used electric semi trucks go about 100,000 miles per year which would be driving 273 miles per day. They are only charging once every two days. Average US large trucks drive 60,000 miles per year which is 164 miles per day.
This means the electricity for 50,000 electric semis driving 100,000 miles could be handled with 1 gigawatt nuclear reactor and about 10,000 megapacks and 83,000 electric semi trucks driving 60,000 miles per year could be handled by 1 gigawatt nuclear reactor and 10,000 megapacks. This would be $210M of megapacks and another $200-500 million of extra installation and other infrastructure.
4 million class 8 electric semi trucks driving the 60,000 mile per year would need 50 gigawatts of nuclear power if the nuclear was about almost 100% capacity. Tesla will be getting efficiency while towing full semi loads from 1.7 kWh per mile to 1.6 kWh per mile and eventually to 1.5 kWh per mile. This means the 60,000-mile-per-year trucks go from 102,000 kWh per year to 90,000 kWh per year. Eleven 60k miles/year trucks per GWh/year or eleven thousand 60k miles/year semi trucks per TWh/year.
The United States added about 90 TWh of electricity from wind power and 35 TWh from solar in 2022. If all of this power was used for 60k per year class 8 trucks that would be 1.375 million trucks and about 200,000 megapacks. Three years of all of the added 2022 US renewable energy would be enough to power the 4 million class 8 trucks in the US. This would need to be tripled to handle all light and medium commercial trucks. This means 400 TWh or a 10% increase in overall US electricity and a 30% increase to convert all light, medium and heavy trucks. The global total truck conversion would be about ten times more.
China added 160 GW of wind, solar capacity in 2023.
The fastest ramp of electricity energy at the scale of 200-400 TWH per year is pushing more natural gas and coal through existing coal and gas plants. There is under-utilized capacity at those existing plants to perhaps a 1000 TWh addition over 4-6 years. This also involves using mostly existing grid and power distribution. The net climate impact would be close to neutral as we reduce oil needs. The fastest option when pushing to get new power production involves solar and wind. The solar farms and solar over commercial buildings and parking lots would be positioned in the right spots. Building a new power plants (nuclear, coal, natural gas) would take many years and would require long power lines. Substations also take years to get planned and made.
5 TWh of renewable energy was curtailed in 2020 in Texas. 30,000 semi-trucks driving 100,000 miles per year with megapacks buffering the charging in Texas would take up the total spare overflow of unusable power. There is also some other spare power where systems are not running all out.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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