With the Biden administration’s focus on electrifying our nation’s school bus fleets and the increased need to electrify transportation to reduce CO2 emissions, a growing number of private sector companies are getting involved in the electric vehicle (EV) ecosystem. This is important as we all work together to slow the rate of climate change and create cleaner rides for our students.
So, when it comes to charging solutions for your school bus operation, it’s important to note that not all are created equal. With so much confusing information out there, we wanted to help ease the learning curve by explaining one piece of the electrification puzzle: different types of charging.
Here are the descriptions of different types of charging and how they can benefit your school bus fleet.
Types of Electric Vehicle Charging
Plain One-Way Charging
This is the most common type of charging available today and is sometimes referred to “dumb charging” for its simplicity. This describes the simple function where a charging station enables you to plug in your electric bus and pull electricity from the grid while plugged in.
There are no real benefits to this besides being able to recharge your bus once it’s done with its driving duties. On the other hand, it has the disadvantage of charging your vehicle at what could be the worst times of day (i.e., when utility rates are expensive due to high demand) and could significantly increase your utility bill.
As the name implies, “smart” charging has some features that make it more intelligent than dumb charging. With smart chargers, you can schedule charging according to when electricity rates might be low, such as in the middle of the night.
This can help save money on your utility bill. Smart charging, however, won’t guarantee your charge levels, so you’ll need to calculate how many hours are needed to charge your bus every time you plug in.
“V1G” is also sometimes referred to as “smart charging” and includes both the ability to charge when rates are low and dynamically modify the charge rate (how much power is being pulled from the grid at any given time). This can help save on utility bills and helps lessen the burden electric busees put on the grid when plugged in to charge.
V1G charging requires special charging station integrations with software such as Nuvve’s platform.
Bidirectional Charging (and “V2B”)
Bidirectional charging includes all V1G features and enables EV batteries to store and discharge energy back and forth to and from the grid. This allows EVs like school buses to become mobile energy storage units for renewable sources such as solar and wind, which are intermittent by nature.
Bidirectional charging can also include what’s called vehicle-to-building (V2B) or vehicle-to-home (V2H) which allows excess stored energy from an EV battery to be pushed back into a building or house. In addition to reducing charging costs through V1G, V2B helps save on a building’s utility bills since the EV is supplying some of a facility’s energy needs.
Savings in this configuration are optimized when the vehicle charging infrastructure and buildings are connected to the same utility meter.
Finally, bidirectional charging may include the ability to access energy markets. This access allows the EV to perform what are known as “grid services.” These are special functions that help stabilize the grid, prevent blackouts, and improve resiliency.
This type of charging requires bidirectional charging station equipment and software, certain charging connection types from both the charging station and the electric bus, and interconnection and special permissions from the local utility where the EVs are being charged.
Due to the critical nature of these services, these special permissions are not available to consumers and are generally only available to qualified businesses and charging solutions providers like Nuvve.
Think of V2G like the premium version of bidirectional charging. In addition to everything we discussed above, V2G software platforms like Nuvve’s are experts in combining (or aggregating) the energy from multiple EVs to create virtual power plants or “VPPs.”
These VPPs can take the excess stored kilowatts from each individual electric bus, for example, and combine all of that energy into megawatts that perform powerful grid services and can even sell energy back to the grid to earn revenue.
So, in addition to all the cost savings associated with V1G and V2B, V2G creates a revenue opportunity for fleet owners and operators. And, with V2G active, EVs become renewable energy storage solutions for the grid which is critically needed to achieve many states’ net-zero carbon goals.
Again, special software integration and charging connection types are needed to enable V2G. And similar to bidirectional charging, accessing energy markets and selling energy back to the grid requires special permissions that only qualified companies like Nuvve are able to obtain.
When it comes to charging, there is a clear value gained by more advanced technology. The more sophisticated charging like V2G creates exponential value through the savings and revenue generation opportunities.
What Does All of This Mean for You?
It’s important to consider what’s important to you and your community. For example, here are some questions to ask yourself:
- How important is it to save on operating costs? V2G will give you the most bang for your buck over the lifetime of an electric bus and helps lower the total cost of ownership to the greatest degree. In fact, with V2G, the cost of an electric bus can be competitive to that of a diesel bus when you factor in maintenance and fuel costs.
- Does our community have a focus on sustainable initiatives? Or, is it important that your electric bus fleet solution help impact climate change above and beyond simply reducing CO2 emissions from diesel buses? V2G helps integrate renewable energy resources in a more predictable way and can help stabilize the grid through various services.
- Are we looking for a short-term solution or a long-term solution? While V2G requires specific equipment, software, and utility interconnection requirements, setting your fleet up with a V2G solution today will set your school up for success to maximize cost savings, create revenue opportunities, and optimize green technology for the future.
The answers to these questions can help inform the type of charging solution you choose for your bus fleet. Be sure to ask any providers you talk to about these different charging types and what they actually offer.
How Nuvve Can Help
Nuvve offers both V1G and V2G solutions that help reduce the total cost of ownership for school bus fleets. In addition to the significant cost savings, our V1G and V2G platforms always prioritizes having enough charge for a day’s driving duties and works within electric bus manufacturer battery warranty limits to ensure battery health.
We help walk you through the entire electrification process from securing buses and charging equipment to installation and charging management for your electric fleet.
Today, Nuvve is the only provider in North America with a commercially available V2G platform that works with school buses. And with flexible financing options include full financing and no upfront costs, we are making school bus fleet electrification more affordable, simple, and reliable than ever before.