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Electrifying the Highway: Megawatt Charging Stations for Electric Big Rigs Hit the Road

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High-powered charging solutions for electric heavy-duty vehicles are beginning to make their appearance

Following several years of gradual progress, high-powered charging systems for electric freight vehicles are now being introduced significantly.

This week, WattEV unveiled a new charging facility that runs on solar energy, specifically designed for commercial trucks that are medium to heavy in weight, located in Bakersfield, California. Initially declared in 2021, this marks the fourth such station WattEV has launched, with the previous three situated strategically close to significant trucking centers and thoroughfares in California.

WattEV announced in a news release that the Bakersfield facility is equipped with three 1,200-kilowatt chargers adhering to the Megawatt Charging Standard (MCS), which are powered by its solar installation. According to WattEV, these chargers are capable of replenishing enough energy for a 300-mile drive in a mere half-hour. Additionally, the expansive 119-acre property includes 16 two-cable 360-kilowatt charging stations that draw power from the electrical grid and 15 single-cable 240-kilowatt chargers that conform to the Combined Charging Standard (CCS).

ChargePoint electric vehicle charging station equipped with a megawatt plug and cord

This week, ChargePoint revealed that it will now accommodate the MCS standard. The firm will offer a suitable cable and connector for its Power Link 2000 units, capable of supplying power up to 1.2 megawatts, as stated in a recent press release from ChargePoint. The MCS standard is also tailored for two-way charging, capable of providing up to 3 megawatts, and can be used for charging in both the marine and aviation sectors, according to the company.

The latest updates suggest that there's an acceleration in the establishment of high-capacity charging facilities. The inaugural station equipped for charging electric semi-trucks with megawatt capabilities was launched in Portland, Oregon in 2021, and the megawatt charging protocol was officially standardized in 2022.

Electrified Zone – Daimler Trucks North America collaborates with Portland General Electric in Portland, Oregon.

The beginning could be upon us. In 2020, a project grounded in utility work began, its aim to plan and locate these potent charging stations, setting the groundwork for a system that stretches along the I-5 corridor of the West Coast. Additionally, the truck manufacturer Daimler is devising a plan for a U.S. network for charging and hydrogen fueling for large trucks, with a budget of $650 million.

The process of replenishing hydrogen in fuel-cell semi trucks is thought to take upwards of 20 minutes. However, the advent of megawatt charging systems narrows the gap between the efficiency of these trucks and their battery-operated counterparts. This development prompts speculation on whether hydrogen fuel-cell semi trucks are still a viable option in the push towards reducing carbon emissions in heavy-duty transportation.

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