Jordan of the Limiting Factor goes into detail on electric semi trucks and the megacharging that will be needed. I will go over the scale of the shift for electric trucks. The motivation is that it will make trucks about 30% cheaper to operate by saving 80% of the fuel costs. It also means countries like China will import a lot less oil and can be energy independent. This is a huge deal in terms of the security of a country. China can be cut off from the 10 million barrels per day of oil that they import but they have access to their own coal and their own solar, wind and hydro. It is a economic and strategic no-brainer for companies and countries to shift to electric trucks. As much effort as the US put into conquering Iraq would go into getting off an Iraq level of oil with electric trucks.
There is a 300-member industry group called Charin that is working on standards for charging electric trucks. Those standards are to start rolling out in 2024. Their proposed standard is a 3.75 Megawatt charging system.
Tesla Megacharger will be about 2 to 2.5 megawatt charging. Tesla may increase it later.
Jordan notes that if 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.
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. 24000 electric semi trucks driving 100,000 miles per year would not charge every day. They would be driving 273 miles per day. 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 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.
The United States added about 90 TWh of electricity from wind power and 35 TWh from solar in 2022. China added 160 GW of wind, solar capacity in 2023. The US makes 4000 TWh of electricity every year.
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.
Tesla plans to make 50,000 electric semi trucks in 2024. Those trucks will need 100 gigawatts of power. This would be 876 terawatt hours per year of power.
Adding 800,000 electric Semi trucks every year from 2027 onwards means the US must scale to China levels of new solar and wind. 800,000 electric semi trucks per year would soak up all of the solar and wind power added each year. The average semi truck actually only drives about 60,000 miles per year. This would mean 1,200,000 electric Semi per year could be added with a bit more than doubing the solar and wind added for other reasons.
The shift of all 4 million diesel trucks in the US to solar would take 5-10 years at around this pace. There would also need to be all of the electricity for light and medium trucks. This would offset about 3-4 million barrels per day of oil in the US and 20-30 million barrels per day globally.
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.
Known for identifying cutting edge technologies, he is currently a Co-Founder of a startup and fundraiser for high potential early-stage companies. He is the Head of Research for Allocations for deep technology investments and an Angel Investor at Space Angels.
A frequent speaker at corporations, he has been a TEDx speaker, a Singularity University speaker and guest at numerous interviews for radio and podcasts. He is open to public speaking and advising engagements.