Smart Charging and V2G
Smart charging and V2G are critical components of reducing electric vehicle operating costs. Smart charging software ensures that your vehicle charging schemes are optimized for off-peak hours, and keep your fleet batteries at the perfect level of charge that operations require. V2G provides stability and resilience for grid operators and potentially unlocks and additional source of revenue that can help offset the initial costs of procuring an electric school bus
Smart charging refers to software platforms used to charge multiple vehicles across a fleet. Smart charging platforms can gauge the amount of power a bus needs to meet its route requirements, and can schedule electric bus charging at times when the cost of electricity is lowest.
With smart charging, the software will prioritize charging during periods when electricity is cheapest, enabling the local utility to reduce costly peak demand and balance overall loads on the grid. Smart chargers “shave the peaks” of demand at the fleet depot by setting a maximum level of current that the charger can draw at a particular time. In addition, a smart charging platform can balance the distribution of power to individual chargers across a depot. This leads to a flatter energy consumption profile for the fleet operator and potentially lower electricity costs, or generate electricity cost savings, particularly if the utility imposes demand charges for electricity used during high or peak electricity demand.
To achieve the most economic operation, charging schedules and rates of charge must be dynamically adapted to keep pace with changing utility tariffs. Smart charging platforms can also be helpful during the fleet charging infrastructure planning phase, by helping transportation directors and fleet managers determine the optimum number and type of chargers needed to meet service requirements. Once the electric bus fleet is in operation, a smart charging platform can automate the specific charging rate, time of charge, and total amount of charge for each vehicle in the fleet. Smart charge management platforms can also inform decisions about whether on site or local solar generation or energy storage can be cost-efficient for the fleet
V2G is a promising new frontier of Electric Vehicle technology that can provide fleet operators with greater economies of operation by selling power back to the grid when buses are not needed for student transportation. Buses and chargers outfitted with V2G capability can both receive and supply power to the grid when connected to the bi-directional charger. Bi-directional chargers can even enable buses to provide backup power capability for school buildings in an emergency, if the building has the necessary connectors to receive power from the bus.
In some regions of the country, V2G can generate significant cost-saving for Districts because buses connected to the power grid can “buy low” and “sell high” by charging the buses mainly at night and on weekends or from District owned solar panels. The power stored in the buses is then sold back to the local utility or grid operator at times when prices paid for power are highest. While the battery longevity can be slightly reduced by V2G connections, the degradation is very modest and V2G revenues more than make up the difference.
To take full advantage of V2G benefits, fleets will need to procure V2G-capable DC chargers, a V2G-enabled electric bus with a bidirectional onboard charger, and a V2G-capable smart charging management platform.
Fleet management software and telematics platforms such as GeoTab, Fleetio, Azuga, ViriCiti, or others help monitor operator efficiency and inform smart charging schedules. Diligent monitoring will also allow operators to plan efficient infrastructure decisions, thus ensuring that districts get the most utility from electric school bus procurements and are empowered to address performance issues promptly and thoroughly.