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Electric semi trucks are coming, is our infrastructure ready?

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Christopher Neely's picture
Independent, Local News Organization

Journalist for nearly a decade with keen interest in local energy policies for cities and national efforts to facilitate a renewable revolution. 

  • Member since 2017
  • 755 items added with 372,900 views
  • Mar 31, 2022

Last week, electric semi-truck manufacturer Nikola announced that production of its Tre model is underway and that deliveries to customers would start in the next 3 months. The truck model’s battery has a range of 350 miles, top speed is limited at 70mph and it is equipped with a 753 kWh battery pack. Only a day later, the Colorado Department of Transportation announced the state’s transportation agency would buy Nikola vehicles for its own fleet. 

It seems so recent that electric pick-up trucks began hitting the market. Electric semi-trucks are now stealing headlines, but questions remains: will they also steal our energy supply? Can our existing infrastructure handle this uptick in demand? 

According to a recent article from the Natural Resources Defense Council, the U.S. grid system has enough capacity to meet the short-term burst these trucks will create in energy demand; additionally, 46.1 gigawatts of mostly renewable energy generating capacity are expected to come online by the year’s end—of course, we will need updated infrastructure to connect that generation to the grid. Then, of course, there is the other Big Hope for electric semi trucks and cars in general—flexible battery storage. The ability of these batteries to store and send energy back to the grid might reduce the grid expansion many are worried is required. 

Still, these are short term load and demand management concerns. Widespread adoption of electric cars and semi trucks will be critical to reducing carbon emissions but the grid as it exists today is still not ready for the future we desire. It’s good that a grid revolution is not necessary to seed these trucks into the market, but we still need to worry about the long term and keep the limits of our current infrastructure at the front of our minds. 



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