Brian McCowan, Zondits staff, 11/1/2022
In the Greater Boston area, electric school buses are doing more than taking students to and from school. Energy stored in the buses’ batteries is transferred back to the grid during times of demand stress on the regional electric generation and distribution systems. In the town of Beverly, a Boston suburb, the school systems fleet of electric buses sent stored electric power back to the grid during 80 hours of peak demand.
This past summer, heat waves across New England were all too common. As demand grows during peak space conditioning demand periods, higher polluting generating stations are brought online to avoid brownouts or even blackouts. Energy storage has the potential to mitigate the problem by storing excess energy during off-peak hours and sending it back to the grid when demand spikes. Energy storage is more commonly thought of as large utility-owned storage facilities, or residential and commercial building located systems that are often associated with PV solar installations. But with over 2 million electric vehicles and 13,000 electric school buses operating in the US, the potential for significant grid management is evident.
The town partnered with Highland Electric Fleets which provides electric school buses and other electric heavy vehicles for transport and vehicle-to-grid (V2G) infrastructure and services across the US and Canada. “School buses sit idle most of the day, so why not send energy back to the grid to conserve when it’s needed most?” is the question asked by Highland’s director of technology and platform management, Sean Leach. Answering his own question, Leach states, “Fossil fuel-powered buses provide no value when idle. Electric buses, on the other hand, can be used effectively as mobile batteries when not transporting students to provide additional power that supports grid stability and resiliency.”
Zondits is following other V2G projects throughout the country, including a similar but larger bus deployment in San Francisco and a Duke Energy program that encourages EV owners to participate in V2G operations. We will continue to report on the progress being made.
Learn more about this and other related projects:
- iotm2mcouncil.org article: School buses help power Massachusetts grid
- yahoo.com article: Voltus and Highland Electric Fleets to Deliver Grid Support in Partnership with North America’s Largest EV School Bus Fleet