We’ve seen and heard all about the electric trucks making their way onto our roads and into fleets in the name of increasing MPG and reducing fuel costs. But, have we considered all the variables in the debate between diesel versus electric power? As much as we’d like to make the comparison simple and straightforward, it’s anything but.
According to MIT energy economist and researcher Jing Li, comparing the gross output of diesel power versus electric power doesn’t give us the full story because so much of electrical power generation relies on coal and other fossil fuels. Li notes that while there are renewable sources of energy like hydroelectric, wind, solar and nuclear, there simply aren’t enough of these plants in the United States.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 29 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States come directly from power plants, while GHG from all transportation forms accounts for 27 percent. Additionally, the EPA notes electricity production generates the second largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, close to 70 percent of electricity comes from burning fossil fuels, mostly coal and natural gas.
A Look At Tesla, Thor, And Nikola Trucks
Fossil fuels account for some of the power used to operate Tesla and Thor batteries. However, that’s not the case for Nikola’s hydrogen-powered rigs. In this way, Nikola’s hydrogen-powered trucks could be seen as being comparatively cleaner since their vehicles do not rely on the grid for power.
We’re starting to see more and more trucking companies adding hydrogen-powered rigs to their fleets in an effort to reduce potential diesel volatility in their operating costs.
Though hydrogen “does not naturally exist in large quantities on Earth,” says the EPA, it’s “the most abundant element in the universe” and can be derived from fossil fuels, water, methane and natural gas. Because hydrogen can be manufactured, we could go so far as to say that we shouldn’t be concerned with supply. What are your thoughts on the debate between electric and diesel power?
For more information about truck fuel efficiency be sure to check out this blog post: How Fleet Owners Are Saving Money: 5 Fuel Efficiency Technologies