Feb 7, 2024

Exploring the Conversion of Abandoned Power Plants into Electric Truck Charging Hubs

As the world moves towards a more sustainable future, the transportation industry has become a major focus for reducing greenhouse gas emissions or carbon emissions. With the rise of types of EVs, the demand for charging infrastructure has significantly increased.

However, this demand presents a unique opportunity to repurpose abandoned power plants into charging hubs for electric trucks. In recent years, there has been a growing interest in exploring this conversion, as it not only provides a solution for repurposing these decaying structures, but also addresses the need for more charging options for electric truck owners.

This concept has gained significant attention from industry experts, policymakers, and environmentalists alike, as it has the potential to create a more sustainable and efficient transportation system.

In this article, we will delve into the concept of repurposing abandoned power plants into electric truck charging hubs and explore the benefits, challenges, and potential climate change impacts or environmental impacts of this innovative idea on the future of sustainable transportation.

Expected To Dominate

The electric truck industry is expected to dominate in the future, but a major concern is where the power systems will come from to charge these vehicles. Zeem Solutions, a pioneer in electric infrastructure development, believes that decommissioned power plants could provide a significant source of energy.

Paul Gioupis, the CEO of Zeem, is known for his fast-paced approach. He is constantly thinking and talking quickly, and his methods for providing electric vehicle charging have gained popularity.

Gioupis founded Zeem seven years ago, after leaving his career as an investment banker to work for Smith Electric Vehicles in the UK. During his time there, he helped develop the electric component stack for Class 4-6 vehicles.

Despite encountering obstacles along the way, including an unsuccessful public listing and the suspension of operations at Smith EV in 2017, Gioupis gained extensive knowledge about electrification, including vehicles, batteries, charging, and working with utilities.

In summary, Zeem Solutions is actively seeking innovative solutions to power the growing number of electric trucks in the industry, and Paul Gioupis's expertise and experience make him a valuable resource in this field.

Lessons Learned

Gioupis, the spokesperson for Zeem, emphasized the versatility of their depots, stating that they were designed to accommodate vehicles of all sizes and weights, ranging from light-duty to heavy-duty. One strategic location for Zeem's depots is the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), where the need to transition to carbon-free transportation by 2027 is particularly pressing.

Zeem's fleet at LAX consists of electric shuttle vans that transport passengers and flight crews between terminals and hotels, making up about 40% of their fleet-as-a-service business.

In close proximity to LAX, Zeem operates two facilities covering a combined area of 3.1 acres. These facilities possess a total capacity of 10 megawatts and primarily cater to the charging needs of Hertz's battery packs electric passenger cars.

Furthermore, as the demand for electric cargo vans increases, Zeem accommodates the charging requirements of General Motors' BrightDrop and Ford's electric Transit vans, which serve various purposes.

To meet the charging needs of larger vehicles servicing LAX, such as electrified 16- and 18-foot box trucks from Kuehne+Nagel and BMC, as well as Class 8 tractors from Volvo and Nikola, Zeem provides direct-charging (DC) ports. Additionally, Anheuser-Busch benefits from Zeem's depot services agreement, utilizing their facilities to park and charge electric trucks.

In addition to charging solutions, Zeem offers various services to their customers. They provide a convenient charge-and-go option, along with parking, charging, maintenance, and wash services for plug-in electric vehicles.

Moreover, Zeem offers a comprehensive truck-as-a-service bundle, which includes the provision of a truck, charging facilities, and depot services, all for a fixed monthly price.

There Are Numerous Alternatives Available

Zeem offers a wide range of charging options to accommodate various vehicle charging needs. With 53 Level 2 alternating-current chargers and 78 DC fast chargers from ABB, Zeem successfully delivered over 1 million kilowatt-hours of electricity in the previous year.

At Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Zeem provided 25,000 charging sessions to 7,700 vehicles, resulting in an impressive gigawatt of electricity. This amount is sufficient to power 50,000 homes in California on an average day.

Anticipating further growth, Zeem aims to dispense a staggering 4GW of electricity this year. However, this increased demand puts additional strain on the electric grid, leading to higher "demand charges" for fleets that charge during peak hours.

To counteract this impact, Zeem is exploring bi-directional charging, wherein its chargers can transfer electricity from a charged truck to a commercial vehicle that requires charging, thereby alleviating pressure on the grid.

In the long run, Zeem plans to implement on-site energy storage as an alternative to imposing extra charges for peak charging. The company has delved into various options, ranging from stationary fuel cells to generators, including diesel-powered ones, to accumulate renewable energy at its charging locations.

These measures are aimed at ensuring efficient and sustainable operations while meeting the growing demand for electric vehicle charging services.

Getting There Wasn’t Easy

Infrastructure development faces numerous obstacles, ranging from the complexities of obtaining permits and dealing with supply chain bottlenecks to effectively communicating with utility companies.

According to Gioupis, the process of laying the groundwork for infrastructure projects presents significant challenges, from inception to completion. It is a highly demanding endeavor that involves various obstacles and hurdles.

However, Southern California Edison is praised for being at the forefront in understanding the distinctions between construction companies submitting plans for warehouses or gas stations and infrastructure developers who require information on power availability and timelines.

On the other hand, in Washington state, Zeem had to wait for a lengthy four-month period to ascertain the amount of electric capacity they could access.

Gioupis emphasizes the importance of swiftly maneuvering through the utility system and comprehending when the desired capacity can be obtained. Such requests are unfamiliar to utilities, thus necessitating a clear explanation of the infrastructure being developed.

This is particularly necessary for the construction of medium-duty and heavy-duty infrastructure for fleets, as their power consumption is substantial.

Future State: Decommissioned Power Plants

ArcLight Capital Partners, a Boston-based private equity firm, made a significant investment of $50 million in Zeem in July. The purpose of this investment was to enhance Zeem's site builds and expand its operations.

In addition to this, ArcLight Capital Partners has been actively identifying brownfield sites, including decommissioned power plants, as potential locations for their projects. One such site is a 20-acre area in Long Beach, California, which used to generate 252MW of power.

The firm has also identified another site in New Jersey. Upon discovering the Long Beach site, Gioupis, a member of the team, expressed his excitement and immediately informed the partner about the significant find.

This discovery is particularly significant because finding suitable power sources has been a challenge for the team. The investment and extensive efforts put into these projects are expected to yield positive results in a relatively short period of time.

Receivership Spells The End For Lightning eMotors

Lightning eMotors, a prominent designer and manufacturer of electric shuttle vans and small school buses, faced an arduous battle with insolvency over the past couple of years. However, in December, the company reached a critical juncture as it agreed to enter receivership, effectively abandoning its efforts to repay its loans and secure financing.

This significant development was officially documented in an agreement filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

To initiate the receivership process, Cupola Infrastructure Income Fund lodged a complaint on December 13 in Larimer County (Colorado) District Court, requesting the appointment of a receiver for both Lightning and its wholly owned subsidiary, Lightning Systems Inc. Subsequently, Cordes & Co. was chosen and authorized to act as the receiver.

With Cordes now overseeing the proceedings, Lightning's assets are being liquidated to satisfy the claims of various creditors, including a substantial sum of $3 million owed to Cupola. Regrettably, the company's shareholders will not receive any financial restitution from these proceedings.

In another blow to Lightning's status, the New York Stock Exchange decided to delist the company on Tuesday due to its market shares consistently trading below the required minimum price of $1 for more than 30 consecutive days.

Keeping A Brave Face

During a media ride and drive event in Detroit, CEO and founder Tim Reeser maintained a positive demeanor while acknowledging the company's challenging financial situation. However, he expressed no regrets about the decision to take the company public through a special purpose acquisition company called GigCapital3 Inc.

This move resulted in a valuation of $586 million and raised $268 million for Lightning. Due to a significant number of shareholders redeeming their shares early, Lightning received approximately $230 million.

Reeser explained that at the time, the company required a substantial amount of capital, especially considering the difficulties posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the challenging market conditions. Consequently, the capital markets offered Lightning an attractive valuation, allowing them to secure the much-needed $230 million for scaling the business.

Reeser emphasized that this approach was the only viable option under the circumstances.

Additionally, Lightning reached an agreement on January 12th to settle a pending shareholder derivative action. The settlement amount of $1.85 million, along with $500,000 in plaintiff's legal fees, was agreed upon. A settlement hearing is scheduled for March 8th in federal court in Colorado.

In Conclusion

The conversion of abandoned power plants into electric truck charging hubs is a promising solution to both the issue of abandoned industrial spaces and the need for electric vehicle infrastructure. Not only does it repurpose unused land, but it also supports the growth of sustainable transportation and reduces emissions.

As more companies and governments invest in this innovative solution, we can look forward to a cleaner and more efficient future for freight transportation. Let's continue exploring and implementing creative solutions to address pressing environmental concerns.

If you want to stay updated with a wide range of trends, actionable insights, and innovative solutions in the trucking, freight, and logistics industry, stay connected to us.

Moreover, If you are looking for more information about drug and alcohol testing as a truck driver, visit LabWorks USA.

Our DOT Consortium's friendly team will be more than happy to discuss any concerns you may have and work with you to ensure you are always fully compliant, especially with random DOT drug and alcohol testing. Moreover, if you need help with FMCSA Clearinghouse registration, we can further support you.