Two California tech companies have joined forces to push forward a plan to roll out 10,000 electric school buses over the next four years. In addition to transporting students, the buses will serve as a 1 GW “virtual power plant” to supply power to the state grid.
The companies are software publisher AutoGrid and remote support application Zūm, both based in Redwood City, in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Rahul Kar, Managing Director of New Energy at AutoGrid, commented in a press release: “School buses have predictable daily schedules and are typically only used a few hours a day, making them an ideal resource as part of a virtual power plant.
“Virtual power plants play a crucial role in the stability of a grid powered by renewable energy and the additional revenue generated by these grid services allows school districts and electric vehicle (EV) fleet owners to reduce the cost.” total possession while striving to ensure their sustainability goals. “
The plan could leverage the $ 25 billion investment proposed by the Biden administration in electrifying school buses as part of its infrastructure bill. At present, some 500,000 yellow buses transport more than 27 million students per day. According to companies, electrifying a school bus saves 11 tonnes of carbon emissions per year.
Zūm is currently working with more than 4,000 schools in the San Francisco area to provide optimized routes and vehicles. The company says this has resulted in a drop in the number of students in the district spending an hour or more between school and school, from 70% to 3%.
Vivek Garg, President of Zūm, said, “We are committed to making it easy for districts to scale their fleets to 100% electric through a combination of technology and innovation. Beyond that, we’re taking vehicles that have traditionally spent most of their lives in neutral or parked and expanding their use in a number of ways – from using them for journeys beyond home-school trips to school. optimization of the electricity network. “
AutoGrid manages more than 5 GW of “distributed energy” resources in 12 countries. He argues that the use of batteries from school electric vehicle fleets has the potential to make a significant contribution to cleaning up the electricity grid in North America.
Right now, when demand for electricity increases in California, some 17 GW of power is produced from fossil fuel power plants, many of which are located in dense urban areas. The VPP school bus would offer an alternative to this system at a lower cost for the consumer and the environment.
Image: A mobile power station (Bill McChesney /CC BY-SA 2.0)