Tevva is aiming to drive forward the electrification of trucks, with a new partnership recently signed with Vattenfall, but challenges surrounding charging infrastructure are still very much present.
“The availability of the grid and chargers is an issue right now,” Asher
Bennett, CEO of Tevva, told Current±. “I'm a huge believer that the best fuel for trucks and for cars is electricity, but chargers cost money, grid upgrades cost money, there are limitations with the availability of the grid and if you put 100 trucks in one place, it gets even more difficult.”
Bennett explained that many depots already require high volumes of electricity at night, for instance to sort packages, further compounding the issue. Additionally, it can be somewhat of a lottery when it comes to the location of the depot, where sometimes a substation is nearby and sometimes it’s not and a company therefore needs a costly upgrade.
Therefore, work needs to be done on helping fleets get power to their depots and set up their chargers with the right contracts in place for electricity. This forms part of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) Tevva signed with Vattenfall earlier this year, with the duo to explore the opportunity to provide a complete transport solution for businesses looking to reduce the overall carbon impact of their operations.
In the announcement of the deal, Vattenfall referenced its ability to provide connections to the electricity grid along with the electrical and hydrogen infrastructure for a vehicle fleet or depot, as well as Vattenfall Energy Trading offering UK businesses – including operators of hydrogen electrolysers – the option to purchase renewable electricity generated by harnessing wind and solar through power purchase agreements.
This is particularly pertinent as Tevva’s trucks have a range extender that uses hydrogen as a backup fuel.
“Clearly one of the problems right now is there's just no infrastructure for availability of hydrogen,” Bennett said, adding that by working with Vattenfall Tevva isn’t just waiting for the infrastructure to happen.
Vattenfall already has experience with green hydrogen, and in January of this year announced plans with Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Shell and Wärme Hamburg to build a 100MW hydrogen electrolyser powered by wind and solar in Hamburg.
While hydrogen is used by Tevva, Bennett was clear that it is not a complete solution for decarbonising transport.
“It should not be used as the main fuel for road transport; it shouldn't be used for cars. I think part of the solution for cars is just a little bit of a bigger battery, a bit more chargers. We use it as a backup fuel, and that changes everything.”
This is largely due to fleets needing the assurance that trucks will be guaranteed to come back, with the fuel cell able to provide that back-up option.
“At the core, we are an electric truck; we have large lithium ion batteries. Our customers charge the trucks at night, and then run them hopefully all day making deliveries. We understand trucks are out there eight, nine hours a day. They're a workhorse.”