California is going to need thousands of chargers and charging stations and electric trucks in order to meet its zero emission truck goals but the capacity of energy, charging stations and electric trucks is not currently available according to Matt Schrap, CEO for the Harbor Trucking Association (HTA).
Schrap was speaking to the Propeller Club of Northern California on September 6th where he said: “You’re going to need thousands of chargers by 2030 to support the deployment of medium and heavy-duty trucks … 157,000 chargers in 2030. Okay. For you math guys out there, that's like 500 chargers per week that need to be installed, starting with yesterday… to support what the California Energy Commission people who are supposed to be responsible for the infrastructure are telling us and the industry. That’s how many chargers we are going to need to deploy.”
Schrap noted the energy grid today does not support the capacity needed to power the number of trucks required to move existing freight and that more energy is needed. Mandates in California have been created that will go into effect as early as January 2024 but charging stations can take years to permit and build.
At the Propeller Club event, Scott Taylor Chairman of the Board, GSC Logistics introduced Schrap who he said was an education to listen to: “And for the few minutes that he's going be talking this afternoon, I guarantee you you're going learn a lot.”
Schrap said some efforts are under way to build charging stations but they will not be enough: “I'm not saying stuff isn't happening. You've got folks like Forum Mobility and others building charging stations … they're making efforts to build this stuff. It’s just that time is the challenge and … it's expensive …You can't just flip the switch on an industry and expect them to change their total operational profile when you don't have anywhere to fuel.”
Will Mitchell, Vice President, Forum Mobility says the company is embarked on building charging stations to support trucking at ports in Northern and Southern California but said the effort is “a multi-year transition.” Schrap noted that while there are plenty of diesel fueling stations for trucks that can be fueled quickly, truck battery “charging could keep you there for 30, 40 minutes just to even get like a top off depending on how much that output is coming from the charger.”
Schrap says charging is slow because “truck manufacturers are hesitant to do faster charging times or to build out bigger batteries because they're fearful of the safety component.”
Another problem is range of the truck battery:” The manufacturers might say, you get 250 miles effective range but you really have like 200 miles of effective range. I've got guys who are running these exact same trucks right now who did … one round trip out to the Inland Empire and back to Compton (California) and they were white knuckled on the way back. That's probably about a hundred-mile round trip, give or take. They were almost completely out of battery by the time that they got back to the facility.”
Schrap is concerned that California ports will lose business because of the zero emissions requirements: “California can't do it alone. And you have other states like New York State, right, who signs on to a memorandum of understanding …but the ports of New York and New Jersey just got around to banning 1998 engines as of July 1st of this year.”
The result is that “our challenges are vast … when we go and talk to the (California) Air Resources Board, we go and talk to (California) legislators or we go and talk to people at the (Air Quality) Districts to have them understand some of the operational challenges that we have just to begin with.”
Schrap believes that injecting a note of caution into the discussion for technology conversion for truckers is not getting a fair hearing: “When you start sprinkling in the zero-emission side of things, basically, either if you don't agree with it you're labeled as more or less an environmental racist. If you are opposed to it in any way, shape or form, you're some type of climate denier.”
Schrap is also disturbed by environmental justice advocates who he believes have become obsessed by the threat of climate change: “I said earlier that the climate change component of this is what drives elected officials and regulators to get up for work in the morning, right? They are up against an environmental justice lobby that's made up of young, very activated people who are pissed off, for lack of a better term … They are so concerned about the climate and potential effects of climate change that they aren't even having children. And they say this to me that they are so concerned … So, they are pressing our elected officials and the regulators to really do something to stave off climate change. All of this all started was about air quality …It was about protecting public health. That's why the Air Resources Board was created. Its mission was to protect public health … relative to exposure to toxics that are emitted from internal combustion or from refining…”