The Analysis, Assembled from Multiple Sources, Details the Hurdles Related to Battery Electric Truck Recharging that Will Impede the Achievement of Widespread Adoption.
The Port of Oakland Board of Port Commissioners approved the Seaport Air Quality 2020 and Beyond Plan in 2019 which establishes zero-emission operations as the policy direction of the Seaport. Among the intermediate-term goals for the following five years is the deployment of 21 zero-emissions drayage trucks by 2027. Currently, the Port of Oakland has three battery-electric trucks in demonstration with up to 18 more coming in early 2020. This study analyzed the feasibility of zero-emissions trucks and presented some major challenges for transitioning the drayage truck fleet serving the Port. Among various challenges identified, the study underlined that the investments for battery charging stations were just as important to the planned transition as the affordability, feasibility and availability issues related to the battery electric drayage trucks. The initial investment cost for charging stations can be high and create a barrier preventing firms from making the transition. The study looked at the Port of Oakland and firms operating inside the Port, who were investing in charging infrastructure between 2019 and 2020. It also detailed various conditions which affect the purchasing and installation cost of the new charging stations for drayage trucks.
- Be aware of different charging/fueling standards. The absence of clear standards regarding voltage, amperage, phasing, “withstand rating”, and charging connectors makes it challenging for consistent infrastructure development. As it stands, different truck models may need entirely separate and custom charging ports. Hydrogen fueling equipment faces similar challenges.
- Lack of charging/fueling locations is a significant challenge for long-haul trucks. Long-haul trucks that do not return to the same depot daily face charging challenges. In 2019, the Port of Oakland established an application process for tenants leasing space to add charging stations to their infrastructure.
- Evaluate the land needs for electric charging infrastructure. Because of the increased time needed to charge battery electric trucks as opposed to diesel, charging stations would need more land. The report indicates that while a diesel truck takes about 25 minutes for a 500-mile journey, a battery electric truck might take over two and a half hours. Unless rest requirements are changed, the longer recharging time would likely cut into a driver’s on-duty hours. Given these facts, charging stations would likely take up significantly more land than gas stations and require services like food, restrooms, and security. The station locations and cost/benefit ratios have yet to be thoroughly studied.
- Hydrogen fueling is more cost-prohibitive technology for zero-emission trucks. The report stated that when hydrogen is made by electrolysis using renewable electricity, the carbon intensity decreases, but the cost increases up to about six times the cost of diesel. At the time of the study, there was only one hydrogen fueling station in Oakland.
- Consider the short haul sector when rolling out battery electric trucks initially. There are no major hills and no need to reach freeway speeds for short haul trucking. The most ideal type of service would be repositioning empty containers or moving light loads, so the battery weight does not put the truck over the standard roadway limit. One challenge is that this type of duty cycle is deemed a niche as truck owners typically prefer a truck not limited to one type of cycle.
- Recognize the significant hurdles in medium and long haul transitions . These trucks need to reach freeway speeds and transit over while carrying full loads with the air conditioner or heater running. For this to be possible, technology needs to advance, especially for battery life and range, as the battery range is currently about 150 miles with a single charge. In addition, a wide network of charging and fueling stations would need to exist for long haul battery electric trucks to be a reality.