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Heavy-duty truck electrification and the impacts of depot charging on electricity distribution systems

Abstract

Major technological advancements and recent policy support are improving the outlook for heavy-duty truck electrification in the United States. In particular, short-haul operations (≤200 miles (≤322 km)) are prevalent and early candidates for plug-in electric vehicles (EVs) given their short, predictable routes and return-to-base applications, which allows vehicles to recharge when off shift at their depots. Although previous studies investigated the impacts of added electrical loads on distribution systems, which included light-duty EVs, the implications for heavy-duty EV charging are underexplored. Here we summarize the causes, costs and lead times of distribution system upgrades anticipated for depot charging. We also developed synthetic depot charging load profiles for heavy-duty trucks from real-world operating schedules, and found that charging requirements are met at common light-duty EV charging rates (≤100 kW per vehicle). Finally, we applied depot charging load profiles to 36 distribution real-world substations, which showed that most can accommodate high levels of heavy-duty EV charging without upgrades.

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Fig. 1: US truck stock and energy consumption disaggregated by primary operating range.
Fig. 2: Typical secondary electricity distribution system with depot charging.
Fig. 3: Daily fleet driving mileage and off-shift dwell distributions.
Fig. 4: Depiction of EV load profiles for the modelled charging strategies.
Fig. 5: Average daily depot load profiles for multiple scenarios.
Fig. 6: Peak depot charging load normalized per vehicle.
Fig. 7: Likelihood of substation upgrades required for peak day fleet depot charging.

Data availability

The fleet depot charging load profiles and EV load integration results generated in this study are available through the NREL Data Catalog at https://data.nrel.gov/submissions/162. The vehicle drive cycles used in this study contain business-sensitive geographical information and thus are not publicly available; however, anonymized data summaries and visualizations are available through the Fleet DNA website at https://www.nrel.gov/transportation/fleettest-fleet-dna.html.

Code availability

Derived fleet-charging availability schedules, daily vehicle mileage and energy requirements, and the code developed to produce, study and visualize fleet load profiles, are open source and available at https://github.com/NREL/hdev-depot-charging-2021.

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Acknowledgements

This work was authored in part by the NREL, operated by Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, for the US Department of Energy (DOE) under Contract no. DE-AC36-08GO28308. Funding provided by the US Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Vehicle Technologies Office. The views expressed in the article do not necessarily represent the views of the DOE or the US Government. The US Government and the publisher, by accepting the article for publication, acknowledges that the US Government retains a non-exclusive, paid-up, irrevocable, worldwide license to publish or reproduce the published form of this work, or allow others to do so, for US Government purposes. We are grateful to DOE programme managers J. Ward and H. Croteau for their guidance and support. We also acknowledge E. Miller (NREL) and NREL’s FleetDNA team for assistance with accessing and analysing fleet operating data. A. Fowler and R. Shipman (Oncor) both contributed to the execution of the case study. Finally, A. Meintz (NREL), A. Birky (NREL), P. Bean (Tesla) and M. Neumann (Tesla) provided helpful comments and insights that improved the study.

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Contributions

M.M. and B.B. conceptualized the study. M.M., B.B., M.G., D.W. and T.C. provided the methodology. B.B. and D.W. created the software and carried out the formal analysis and visualization. All the authors performed data curation and took part in consultation. The original draft was written by B.B., M.M., M.G. and D.W., with review and editing by B.B. and M.M. Funding acquisition was by M.M., who supervised the study.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Matteo Muratori.

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Competing interests

D.W. and W.M. are employees of Oncor Electric Delivery Co. and T.C., A.I., H.G. and C.M. are employees of Southern Company. The other authors declare no competing interests.

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Peer review information Nature Energy thanks Heikki Liimatainen, Moataz Mohamed and the other, anonymous, reviewer(s) for their contribution to the peer review of this work.

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Supplementary Notes 1–3, Figs. 1–8, Tables 1 and 2, and references.

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Borlaug, B., Muratori, M., Gilleran, M. et al. Heavy-duty truck electrification and the impacts of depot charging on electricity distribution systems. Nat Energy 6, 673–682 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41560-021-00855-0

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