According to a recent report from the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI), a non-profit research organization for the trucking industry, transitioning to renewable diesel is deemed more advantageous than battery electric vehicles in reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the transportation sector. This industry accounts for nearly 29% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, surpassing electric utilities at 24.8%.

Andrew Boyle, President of the American Trucking Associations, highlights a crucial point: the majority of electricity is still generated from greenhouse gas-emitting fossil fuels. In his address at the annual meeting of the Arkansas Trucking Association, Boyle emphasized that converting long-haul trucks from traditional diesel to electric vehicles would cost over a trillion dollars in infrastructure and vehicle expenses. Conversely, utilizing renewable diesel would cost $203 billion, yielding equivalent environmental benefits.

Environmental implications related to the extraction of rare minerals and other raw materials for electric trucks must also be considered, Boyle adds. Renewable diesel, requiring approximately 8.5 pounds of materials such as vegetable oil or animal fats to produce one gallon, is chemically identical to petroleum diesel. The U.S. boasts 17 renewable diesel plants annually producing 3 billion gallons of this fuel.

Transitioning to renewable diesel would be more straightforward as the necessary infrastructure is already in place. Trucks could simply refuel with renewable diesel where they currently refuel with petroleum diesel. The industry consumed 2.87 billion gallons of renewable diesel in 2023, a 66% increase from 2022. Conversely, the limited range of electric trucks, between 150 and 250 miles with current technologies, starkly contrasts with that of diesel trucks, capable of traveling 1,000 miles before refueling, whether using traditional or renewable diesel.

Finally, constructing an electric charging infrastructure would require significant acreage in an industry already facing challenges in finding ample parking spaces for trucks. Aaron Pinedo from the Arkansas Department of Transportation notes that a four-port charging station for cars costs around a million dollars. A charging station for heavy trucks would necessitate much more space and take several hours, amplifying logistical challenges compared to the current diesel distribution system, which is widespread and more efficient in terms of time and space.


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