What is the Megawatt Charging System?

With some corners of the climate tech community pointing to a potential ‘hydrogen killer’, Shazan Siddiqi, Senior Technology Analyst at IDTechEx, shines some light on the Megawatt Charging System and what it can offer logistics, haulage, transport and travel. 

a blurry photo of a train on a track

A new high-power charging solution is required to meet the market need of the truck and bus industry to charge electric heavy-duty vehicles in an acceptable amount of time. As a result, the Megawatt Charging System (MCS), a charging system for large battery electric vehicles, is now being developed.

The MCS is capable of charging at a maximum rate of 3.75 megawatts (3,000 amps at 1,250 volts DC), which is the highest rate. MCS is expected to enable fast and efficient charging not only for trucks, but also for marine vessels, aeronautics, and mining. The final publication of the standard and commercial rollout is expected in 2024.

The increased charge rate offered by MCS will allow customers to drive more distance per day by utilizing the mandated break time from the hours-of-service regulations. These regulations state that drivers must occasionally take a break during their drive cycle. For example, the European Union requires 45 minutes of break after every 4.5 hours of driving; the United States mandates 30 minutes after 8 hours. It is well understood that reducing charging times to fit into normal breaks in the duty cycle is an enabler for improved electrification for commercial vehicles and long-distance haulage.

However, not every commercial fleet owner will require MCS as some may find that slower, overnight charging at depots fits their duty cycles best. Site design will optimize for the lowest power solution that meets use case requirements. The recent report from IDTechEx finds that Level 2 AC chargers provide sufficient power to recharge light and medium-duty vehicles overnight, but larger battery capacity long-haul trucks will require DC fast charging. MCS is best suited to enable rapid charging of batteries when they are operating out of range of their home base; in other words, a BEV version of a stop-and-fill forecourt.

MCS is designed for a 6-fold higher current and up to 10-fold higher power compared to CCS. Commercializing chargers with rated power of 1 MW will require significant investment, as stations with such high-power needs will incur significant installation and grid upgrade costs. The need for on-site energy storage and solar-supplemented solutions is also emphasized to reduce demand charges.

Fleet operators and OEMs must work together with utility providers to ensure proper capacity for this new technology is in place. Furthermore, truck OEMs do not manufacture their own packs but buy them from third parties, so they need to make sure that the voltage requirements meet the specifications of MCS, as well as the battery density and the spacing between the cells. They must design for the cooling aspects, different connectors, and the battery management system.

All of these changes contribute to the cost. Infrastructure deployment is also another limiting factor in MCS, as securing large grid connections can take up to 5 years. IDTechEx research finds that MCS infrastructure needs to be in place between 2025 and 2030 to support the long-haul electric trucks entering the market.

More on transport:

Pipe dream come true: Can green hydrogen fuel the future?

‘Plan for motorists’ cannot ignore need for fairer, greener transport

WATCH: World’s first liquid hydrogen flight heralded decarbonisation watershed

Image: Mads Eneqvist


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