Flipping the Switch on Electric School Buses: Infrastructure Planning and Solutions: Module 2 (Text Version)

This is a text version of the video for Flipping the Switch on Electric School Buses: Infrastructure Planning and Solutions: Module 2.

Welcome to Part 5 of the Flipping the Switch on Electric School Buses series where we will discuss electric school bus infrastructure planning and solutions. If you've been following along to Part 5 of the Flipping the Switch Series: Infrastructure Planning and Solutions, you'll already know that it consists of two modules. Module 1 provided an overview of electric school bus charging infrastructure interconnection challenges and solutions including utility structure, grid and facility considerations, and possible interconnection solutions. Module 2, which we're covering today, will discuss electric school buses and provides an overview of vehicle-to-grid barriers and opportunities.

Now, let's get started with Module 2 of Infrastructure Planning and Solutions: Vehicle-to-Grid Overview, Barriers, and Opportunities. In order to understand the different advanced charging solutions, we should first define a few terms. The most common solution in use by fleets today is smart charging also referred to as V1G. This is when a smart charging station is capable of leveraging long vehicle dwell periods to modify vehicle charge sessions to satisfy various goals. Another feature of electric vehicles is the vehicle-to-load. This is when a charging station or vehicle is capable of supplying power to an individual electrical load off board the vehicle. An expansion of this feature is when the vehicle and EVSE are designed to provide power to an entire building of many different loads. This is also referred to as vehicle-to-building or V2B. Finally, the most sophisticated solution is when this system of a bidirectional EV and EVSE is designed to supply power to the grid and provide ancillary services to increase grid reliability and power quality.

Each of these solutions may excel in different use cases. The most common V1G solutions incorporate smart charging to provide benefits such as mitigating peak demand to reduce demand charges or respond to grid signals such as demand response programs or time of use rates. These applications typically require network connected chargers and inputs such as vehicle energy required and departure time to understand the charge flexibility. This was previously discussed in Part 5 Module 1. Unlike V1G, V2L applications are most common at remote worksites without access to the electric grid. This solution helps to power the necessary power tools at these worksites, but it can also provide some benefits for the avid car camper interested in bringing some of the comforts of home out in nature. V2B provides the opportunity to power a building during a grid outage as well as the possibility of partnering with a V1G solution to further mitigate peak demand concerns by not only shifting EV charging away from peak loads but actively reducing them with bidirectional EVSE. However, this solution will require additional protection equipment like a disconnect switch, the safety certified bidirectional EVSE, and building management system to ensure power is not back fed into the grid. V2G expands beyond V2B by employing bidirectional charging to provide grid services such as frequency support or capacity deferral. However, these solutions will require close involvement with the local utility, as well as additional equipment such as a net meter and safety certified bidirectional EVSE.

While there are many different exciting opportunities for advanced charging solutions that employ bidirectional charging, there are also a few immediate barriers that still exist. The most immediate concern is fleet operations. In order for a vehicle to be an asset in either V2B or V2G applications, it must be parked and have the charge flexibility to provide power while also ensuring sufficient time to fully charge and resume its primary mission. In addition to requiring a fleet of electric vehicles with sufficient charge flexibility, there are also additional requirements to ensure a safe connection with the grid. Both V2B and V2G will require equipment such as a disconnect switch or net meter to ensure the bidirectional flow of power is done so in a safe and reliable environment. However, these features will also require bidirectional EVSE, which generally have a higher cost per unit than conventional EVSE. There's also a lack of diverse options in the market for both AC and DC charging stations capable of supporting this bidirectional power flow. And finally, there is a lack of utility programs to incentivize the use of all of this equipment, which will be necessary to recoup the additional equipment costs V2B and V2G will require.

Considering these opportunities and barriers to advanced charging solutions, what are the best deployment applications and which ones are practical for fleets today? V1G and smart charge management can significantly reduce demand charges and mitigate equipment upgrades. These benefits can be even greater when the system is paired with generation sources such as solar photovoltaics. Many solutions like this are currently in use today and can provide significant benefits to fleets. However, while both V2B and V2G represent exciting value opportunities for fleets and utilities, there are a few things fleets may want to consider before investing in these solutions. V2B can provide buildings with emergency backup power during a grid outage, but these systems can be costly to install and will likely require additional generation or storage solutions to facilitate the intermittent availability of vehicles. V2G will also require additional infrastructure investments to provide ancillary services to the grid. It may also be challenging for fleets to recoup the costs of these investments in areas without the necessary utility incentive structures.

In summary, there are many different forms of advanced charging solutions and some of the most exciting options will employ bidirectional power. Unfortunately, there are a few barriers such as additional equipment requirements and a lack of incentive programs that may delay when these solutions will be practical for fleet applications. However, there are many opportunities for managed charging to provide similar benefits that are most effective when paired with local generation such as rooftop solar. As the electric vehicle industry progresses, it will be important for fleets to continue tracking these opportunities and consider where pilot programs for these technologies may be helpful in unlocking the full potential for advanced charging solutions.

Thank you for listening. That concludes Module 2 of Part 5 of Flipping the Switch Series: Infrastructure Planning and Solutions. That concludes all the modules for Part 5 of this series. Now that you've completed Part 5 of the Flipping the Switch Series: Infrastructure Planning and Solutions, you'll want to see what's coming next. In the following parts, we'll discuss vehicle in-use performance, training for both drivers and technicians, and finally cost factors. As a reminder, you can find all the content for the Flipping the Switch on Electric School Buses series including each part of the series and associated modules as well as handouts with the summary of information and links to all the resources mentioned today on the Alternative Fuels Data Center's Electric School Bus page.