Charging Corridors, Stations Will Support Heavy-Duty EV Trucks

The push for electrification of the transportation sector is being supported by companies making significant investments in charging infrastructure. These groups are taking innovative approaches, including utilizing solar power, to providing the electricity necessary for a network of charging stations.

Greenlane on March 27 announced a major project that features a 280-mile charging corridor that eventually could stretch from Las Vegas, Nevada, to Los Angeles, California. Greenlane, a joint venture among Daimler Truck North America LLC, NextEra Energy Resources, and BlackRock (through a fund managed by its Climate Infrastructure business), is rolling out the project along Interstate 15. It will include charging locations in Colton, Barstow, and Baker, California. The company on Wednesday said it plans to add locations that will extend the charging services into southern Nevada, and to San Pedro in California.

Renewable Properties, a San Francisco, California-based renewable energy developer, also has launched an EV fleet charging service. The company, which develops and invests in small-scale utility and community solar projects, is leveraging its community solar development, land acquisition, and electrical infrastructure expertise to provide a turnkey charging solution for companies transitioning their truck fleets from fossil fuels to electric power.

Renewable Properties’ first charging project is sited in Vacaville, California, where the company will offer 54 Level 2 chargers, and 6 Level 3 chargers, with about 3 MW of charging capacity available to fleet vehicles, according to Aaron Halimi, the company’s founder and CEO.

The new charging projects are particularly important across California. Businesses in that state must comply with the state’s Advanced Clean Fleets (ACF) Regulation, which went into effect on Jan. 1 of this year. The ACF rule prescribes a phased-in transition to EV fleets, requiring any fleet operator with revenue greater than $50 million, or that controls more than 50 trucks, to begin electrifying its fleets. Affected fleet owners include retail brands with warehouse and distribution centers; public entities, including municipalities, tribal governments, state governments, county governments, public schools, colleges, and universities; as well as owners of drayage truck fleets that transport cargo to and from California’s seaports and rail yards.

Innovation for Freight Transportation

Greenlane on Wednesday said the company’s flagship site in Colton, south of San Bernardino and about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, is located near several major highways, including interstates 10 and 15. Plans for the Colton site include more than 60 chargers, including 400-kW direct current fast chargers (DCFCs) to speed charging of medium- and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles, known as ZEVs.  Additional 200-kW DCFC charging options onsite will enable long-duration and overnight charging for heavy-duty tractors, medium-duty ZEVs, and school buses. Greenlane will also deploy multiple passenger car charging stalls to support light-duty and passenger vehicles.

“Right now, there’s a lack of public infrastructure across the industry to support new medium- and heavy-duty electric commercial trucking. These challenges, coupled with already-existing issues facing the trucking industry like driver retention, parking and growth, make public assistance ever so valuable,” said Patrick Macdonald-King, CEO of Greenlane. He told POWER, “We’re increasingly seeing the emergence of programs aimed at supporting and advancing electrification across the commercial transportation industry. While it is only a start, and we have seen way more attention given to light duty, recent developments are very encouraging and just what this sector of the industry needs.”

Macdonald-King, who joined Greenlane last year, was formerly the president and COO of EV Connect, one of the largest providers of EV charging networks in the U.S. with international operations in Europe, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. He said, “After considering various factors, such as truck telematics data, frequent freight routes and customer deployment strategy, the Greenlane team selected these three optimal locations for our first commercial charging corridor to accelerate the transition to zero emissions. The launch of this corridor not only marks a critical step in addressing the urgent need for publicly available, nationwide electric charging for commercial vehicles but will also serve as a model for the EV charging hubs of the future.”

Greenlane said its 280-mile corridor of commercial EV charging stations will eventually stretch from the coast near Los Angeles, California, to Las Vegas, Nevada. Source: Greenlane

Greenlane has a goal to develop a nationwide network of commercial charging infrastructure locations that would serve heavy-duty trucks along with passenger and light-duty vehicles. The locations also could support the refueling of hydrogen-fueled vehicles.

Macdonald-King told POWER, “Our initial corridor project is the start of a national program. Completing corridors, and eventually rolling out a national network of connected charging stations, not only addresses the urgent need for publicly available charging infrastructure for commercial vehicles, but creates a new model for the future of EV charging, and eventually hydrogen refueling. While challenges exist, and no two sites will be identical, our commitment to creating the best experience for commercial drivers and fleets will help get driver buy-in and in turn help freight and logistics companies buy-in to electrification.

“We plan to go well beyond just lighting up the LA-to-Southern Nevada corridor … our ambitions are to expand our network across the country. Stations are only as powerful as the network they belong to,” he said.

Long-Duration and Overnight Charging

Greenlane said later project phases will support both long-duration and overnight charging lanes for tractor-trailer combinations. The Colton site also will be future-proofed, in order to accommodate the Megawatt Charging System (MCS) when commercially available. The MCS is being developed by CharIN, a group that represents the heavy-duty vehicle industry. The MCS is considered an important piece of transitioning the freight transportation, aviation, and marine sectors to electrification.

“By using a predictive modeling tool to simulate truck traffic and energy flow at the site, we can determine how many chargers are necessary to meet the regional demand based on vehicle characteristics and departure and arrival times for vehicles hauling freight along this corridor,” said Macdonald-King. “Our findings indicated that placing the three stations approximately 60 to 90 miles apart would maximize uptime for day-cab drivers by enabling shorter charging sessions at each stop and ultimately allowing customers to move freight confidently without any limitations.”

Greenlane said its charging sites will have dozens of chargers, including 400-kW DC fast chargers (DCFCs) to speed charging of medium- and heavy-duty zero-emission vehicles, or ZEVs. There also will be 200-kW DCFC charging options to enable long-duration and overnight charging, not only for large trucks but also for school buses. Greenlane also plans to install  multiple passenger car charging stalls. Source: Greenlane

Each Greenlane site is being designed to upgrade and enhance the current experience for truck drivers who utilize rest stops along the nation’s highways. The company said the sites “will have wide pull-through lanes, allowing drivers to enter and exit the property quickly and easily. While waiting for vehicles to charge, drivers can access modern facilities, with restrooms and other amenities, including food and beverage options.”

The Colton site, at the intersection of interstates 10 and 215, is expected to open in late 2024.

Northern California Charging Station

Renewable Properties said the Vacaville charging station, located about 35 miles southwest of Sacramento, is being designed and built by global engineering and construction company Black & Veatch. The location is intended to function as a transportation and distribution hub for the San Francisco Bay Area. The company said the first station, expected to open next year, will act as a model for deploying more private charging depots for medium- and heavy-duty electric truck and bus fleets on the West Coast.

Renewable Properties, founded in 2017, specializes in developing and investing in small-scale utility, community solar, and energy storage projects throughout the U.S. The company is active in 15 states and has more than 1 GW of solar and energy storage under development, with more than 155 MW under construction or in operation as of January 2024.

Renewable Properties is a solar power developer and investor; this is one of the company’s projects in Northern California. Source: Renewable Properties

“We started working on EV charging almost two years ago,” said Halimi, in an interview with POWER earlier this year at the InterSolar conference in San Diego, California. “The original idea was to co-locate solar and storage with highway infrastructure.” Halimi said key considerations included the expense of acquiring land in the best locations, along with determining the utilization rate.

Halimi said his group recognized the importance of building charging infrastructure for medium- and heavy-duty trucking fleets. “Regulation and policy are mandating they need to electrify. We started looking at siting for these stations, infill or industrial areas, ports, airports, industrial areas.” Halimi said the company is “going hard now on a first run with our first investment, at the intersection of I-80 and the 505.” Halimi said the site expects to have “just shy of 3 MW of capacity,” with about 1 MW of fast-charging capability.

Charging-As-A-Service Agreement

Charging at Renewable Properties’ depots will be offered via a charging-as-a-service agreement, which is similar to a power purchase agreement, or PPA, that companies often have with utilities to secure a regular amount of power at a fixed cost. The company said it will site, build, own, operate, and maintain the gated depots, with customers paying only for the kilowatt-hours used to charge their EVs. The charging depots will feature reserved electrical capacity, secure yards, vehicle storage, and EV chargers that will be compatible with most EV truck brands, according to the company.

Halimi said Renewable Properties’ service will help fill the EV fleet charging gap in California and other states that are moving to set fleet electrification targets.

“The already-growing need for EV fleet charging is now more urgent with California’s new requirements for fleet electrification,” said Halimi. “With our simple, straightforward charging-as-a-service solution, our work with Black & Veatch, plus our deep experience in distributed electrical infrastructure development and land acquisition, Renewable Properties is uniquely positioned to relieve fleet owners of the burden of navigating the complex implementation of EV charging infrastructure.”

Randal Kaufman, sales director for Black & Veatch, said, “Black & Veatch continues accelerating the world’s transition to electric vehicles, and we’re pleased to be a part of Renewable Properties’ new service. As a leader in zero-emission vehicle infrastructure, we bring together key aspects of EV charging, distributed generation and high-power delivery infrastructure that are essential to keeping EV projects in motion.”

Halimi said, “There’s so much opportunity in the EV infrastructure space. I’m still super bullish about solar, but I find myself getting the same warm feeling about this venture.” He added, “The fleet aspect is more aligned with my solar background. Our general customer will be someone who has electrified, or needs to electrify, their fleet.” He also said his company’s experience in acquiring land is critical to expanding a charging station network.

“If you develop one of these projects, in five years if you have to change out the charging equipment, you can do that,” he said. “This is a B-to-B sale, but we understand what it’s like to be an EV consumer. We understand what that looks like. These projects could be the outdoor parking lots of the future.”

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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