Maryland Transit System Gets Solar Microgrid + Storage to Charge Electric Buses

One of the big objections to electric vehicles, and even more so to clean energy, is that the power grid isn’t always up and running. Severe thunderstorms? You cannot charge your electric vehicle. The sun does not shine ? You can’t use solar power! Who thought this was all a good idea?? How much government cheese goes into this shit? !

While this argument may seem to work on the surface, people familiar with clean tech know there’s a whole lot more to it. The “will this thing work in a hurricane?” argument does not hold water if one considers that gasoline pumps also work with electricity. And solar energy? Even though it cannot be stored, we still need electricity when the sun is shining and we can get it from other sources when it is not.

Opponents will have more to say, and the worst of them won’t listen anyway. But a recent press release from The Mobility House shows that it is not only possible to depend on electric vehicles for critical things, but that it can be a better solution than gasoline vehicles when combined with the good infrastructure.

The Mobility House is proud to announce the completion of Brookville Smart Energy Bus Depot in Maryland, completed in conjunction with esteemed partners such as AlphaStruxure and Schneider Electric. With a 6.5 MW microgrid and electric bus charging infrastructure, this project uses on-site solar panels, natural gas generators, battery storage units, microgrid controls – all led to the management of 70 electric buses! Not only that, but this whole solution can work without depending on the local utility company.

So, as we have repeatedly pointed out and here at Clean Technica, electric vehicles really can run on anything, because just about any type of energy can be used to create electricity. Brookville buses can now run on solar power, natural gas, or whatever the grid provides. Diesel buses can only run on diesel.

ChargePilot, The Mobility House’s smart charging and energy management system, optimizes bus charging schedules based on route blocks and energy demands. In this way, ChargePilot coordinates charging with the microgrid, ensuring vehicle availability.

“Montgomery County is committed to demonstrating sustainability leadership and building resilience after experiencing extreme weather events and recent extended power outages. Brookville Smart Energy Depot aligns with county priorities to reduce transit emissions while strengthening community and infrastructure assets,” said Michael Yambrach, Acting Chief, Office of Energy and of Sustainability, Montgomery County Department of General Services.

The 6.5 megawatt (MW) microgrid includes 1.6 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, three 633 kilowatt (kW) generators and 3 MW of battery storage to support up to 70 electric buses, or 50% of the Brookville bus fleet. Charging from its on-site power supply gives the county the freedom to “isolate” or disconnect from the grid, which not only ensures the continued operation of its fleet in the event of a grid outage, but also avoids power outages caused by coordinating bus charging times around service time. – use tariffs which may limit the availability of energy.

“The transportation infrastructure of tomorrow is operational today in Montgomery County,” said Juan Macias, CEO of AlphaStruxure.

“We are thrilled to partner with Montgomery County on this holistic solution that provides improved and cleaner services to county voters. This benchmark project serves as a national model for municipalities and private fleet owners across the county to efficiently deploy the charging infrastructure and distributed energy resources required by the energy transition, accelerating the electrification of medium and heavy-duty vehicle fleets. . Using a turnkey Energy as a Service approach, we provided an integrated bus fleet solution with a resilient energy supply and no upfront costs or financial risks to the county. The Mobility House plays an instrumental role as the interface between the microgrid and vehicles, while reducing operating costs to help make this energy-as-a-service model a success for the county. At AlphaStruxure, we are grateful for our partnership with Mobility House to bring this innovative project to fruition.

The Mobility House’s ChargePilot system is responsible for ensuring that all buses at the Brookville Bus Depot are fully charged to meet tomorrow’s routes. With a load capacity of 4.14 MW, it is able to coordinate with the micro-grid so that there is always enough electricity on site, day or night. Additionally, EV charging also responds to load balancing and peak shaving commands from the microgrid controller as needed.

How does it work

At the end of the press release, The Mobility House invited journalists (and presumably readers) to visit its website and learn more. You can do that here, but I wanted to share some cool stuff I found there. It probably seems obvious, but they do this stuff for fleets all the time. They’ve done this not only for transit fleets, but also for school buses, short-range airport fleets, and two-way building/fleet pricing.

At the center of it all is its software, called ChargePilot. Since fleet electricity needs can increase and completely exceed grid capacity, or make recharging so expensive that the operator cannot afford it, it takes some smarts to shift electricity demand away. of the network. There’s also the challenge of meeting environmental goals, like maximizing the utility of on-site solar power or keeping the fleet running during grid outages. For many people, this would require careful manual control, but the software takes care of all that.

The other cool thing is that they made it easy to pay. As you can probably imagine, installing solar power, backup generators, battery storage, and automated controls could be a huge bill compared to a home solar panel. But, they offer charging as a service, so fleets don’t have to fund the whole thing or pay up front.

This may sound like an advertisement for the company (that’s basically where the information comes from), but from an emergency preparedness and national security perspective, this is all pretty exciting. Instead of relying on a single energy source (grid, diesel pumps, etc.), having more “omnivorous” transportation systems makes the grid much more resilient.

Featured image courtesy of The Mobility House.

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