Tag Archives: vehicles

NC Cooperative Demonstration of Vehicle-to-Grid Smart Charger Shows Economic Value

Electric vehicles (EVs) have the potential to be more than just a means of transportation now that more automakers are selling vehicles compatible with vehicle-to-grid technology, like Nissan LEAF, Ford F150 Lightning, and the Thomas Built C2 Jouley school bus. Bidirectional capable charging stations can transform electric cars, buses, garbage trucks, fleet vehicles and more into mobile energy storage banks.

Preliminary findings from a demonstration of two-way, vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology in North Carolina show the economic potential for using bidirectional charging technologies to feed energy stored in electric vehicle batteries back to charging sites, especially when the grid is experiencing high demand. 

The NC Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC) is coordinating with Roanoke Electric Cooperative (REC) to demonstrate and evaluate the economic case for the use of a two-way charger made by Fermata Energy, maker of the first EV charger certified for the North American standard for bidirectional charging. The project also benefits from support from partners including Advanced Energy, Clean Energy Works, and Environmental Defense Fund.

REC’s headquarters in the rural town of Ahoskie, NC, is the demonstration site for the project, where technicians for the utility’s growing broadband business use the utility’s two Nissan LEAF electric vehicles. The cooperative provides electricity and broadband services to a wide variety of industrial, recreational, educational, community and other interests in addition to farms in northeast North Carolina.

The two-way “smart” charger provides power to Roanoke Electric’s two EV cars, and it is one of the first chargers delivered from Fermata’s manufacturing site in Danville, Virginia. This charger not only curtails a vehicle’s charging in response to peak system demand, but also, it can discharge the energy stored in a connected EV to meet some of the demand at the site when demand on the grid is high. 

The V2G charging technology was thoroughly tested by Underwriters Laboratory to meet the North American standard for bidirectional charging. The purpose of this current demonstration has been to illuminate the value potential of V2G for fleet managers, energy professionals and utility companies— and the project is well on its way to accomplishing that goal.

Initial Results

Fermata Energy’s FE-15 is capable of providing 15 kilowatts of power both to the car and back to the site served by the grid. REC schedules dispatch of the on-board battery in response to predicted peaks, which usually lasts two to three hours. Using only one of REC’s Nissan LEAFs, the V2G system has been able to reduce the utility’s load, on average, by 14.14 kW during the entirety of the 85 event hours to date, across a variety of operating conditions. 

As an example, during a window of recent events, the two-way EV charger discharged the EV battery at 14 kW on average, and it saved the cooperative nearly $440.

The results from this small window suggest savings of over $2,660 a year per two-way charger. The value of this single unit hints at the potential for much bigger savings when multiplied by many units, serving multiple EVs or integrated with entire fleets of EVs. While some chargers may not have an EV connected during every peak period, utilities will develop experience over time with a minimum fraction of availability across thousands of EVs and two-way charging stations, accessing hundreds of MWh of energy storage on-board local EVs.

In addition to system-wide savings, V2G chargers can also create savings for non-residential customers that pay demand charges. Despite having relatively modest demand charges of $9.50/kW, Fermata’s software and charger strategically dispatched the Nissan LEAF battery to reduce REC’s headquarters building demand charges by $234 over a two month period. At larger facilities, Fermata has demonstrated the FE-15 is capable of capturing the full 15 kW in savings possible, and in parts of the country where demand charges can surpass $20/kW, customers could realize savings of over $300 a month.

For REC and its members, and any utility with demand charge and demand response programs in which V2X technology can participate, the benefits of system-wide savings as well as customer savings can be realized simultaneously. Using REC’s local and system demand charges, each FE-15 operating at maximum capacity could result in $3,500 to $4,000 of savings each year.

Roanoke Electric has also been able to demonstrate another application that V2X technology makes possible for improving energy assurance and reliability. REC’s facility has an on-site generator that allows it to isolate itself from the grid, and Fermata’s V2X charger can discharge the Nissan LEAF battery to partially power the facility either by dispatching stored energy when the site’s usage is highest, or by reacting to scheduled discharges for a set duration. The ability for smart charging to respond to an islanded load powered by the generator increases the resilience of sites that use generators as back-up power systems.

These results have important implications for the affordability of electricity, both for grid operators and for the member owners of the electric cooperative. REC’s CEO Curtis Wynn has underscored the improvements to grid utilization that the utility can attain when distributed storage is available to member-owners on the Roanoke Electric grid.

The Potential of Vehicle-to-Grid Technology

As public and private fleets in the United States replace internal-combustion engine vehicles with EVs, integration of V2G technology could enable EVs to serve as energy reservoirs to help keep the grid running smoothly during demand peaks and during system outages. 

In this demonstration at REC, the dollar savings appear to nearly offset the cost of the EVs. The cooperative’s two new Nissan LEAFs with 62kWh battery capacities are leased at less than $250 per month, and the demonstration has documented a generated value of as high as $230 a month. The implications for dropping the net cost of electric mobility to Roanoke Electric member-owners is tremendous.

On a residential scale, electric vehicle drivers could use vehicle-to-building technology to power their homes during lengthy blackouts. With a bidirectional charging system, homeowners could pull power from their electric vehicle batteries to keep fridges, lights, the internet and heating and cooling systems on in their homes, especially when jeopardized by heat waves or hypothermia as seen this year in Texas.

Vehicle-to-building technology could also keep the power on for critical services such as hospitals and shelters during extreme weather conditions and other emergency outages, reducing or even eliminating the cumulative numbers of hours these essential systems have to use backup diesel generators. 

As the demonstration continues, REC staff are exploring a pilot application of the technology with commercial customers, focusing first on locations having higher voltage service — in line with the design of the FE-15 device.

John Bonitz, a specialist for NCCETC’s Clean Transportation Program, said, “Preparing for a future where fleets of electric buses and cars will be electrified, this demonstration at Roanoke Electric Cooperative is helping prove the benefits and economic value of integrating V2G technology to shave peaks, improve grid utilization and increase resilience – all while helping the cooperative and its members save money. And we’re honored to be involved.” 


ABOUT THE TEAM

This demonstration is possible only due to a unique partnership between six organizations:  Roanoke Electric Cooperative serves about 14,000 accounts in Northeastern North Carolina out of their headquarters in Ahoskie, NC.  Fermata Energy is a company created for the dual purposes of accelerating the adoption of EVs and accelerating the transition to a renewable energy future, and it is their bi-directional EV charger and proprietary software system that allow electric vehicles to earn money while they are parked.  Clean Energy Works provides advisory services for accelerating investment in grid-edge solutions.  Advanced Energy is a nonprofit energy consulting firm that assists utilities with program design and electric transportation initiatives. Environmental Defense Fund, a leading international nonprofit organization, creates transformational solutions to the most serious environmental problems, including supporting policies that accelerate transportation electrification to create a zero-emission future.  The NCCETC’s Clean Transportation Program is supporting the demonstration with analysis, technical assistance and facilitation. NCCETC also hosts the largest outreach and engagement events in the region on sustainable fleets, the Sustainable Fleet Technology virtual conference series.

Success Stories for Sustainable Fleet Management at the 2021 Virtual Conference

The agenda for the 2021 Sustainable Fleet Technology Virtual Conference has officially been announced! Attendees will be able to tune in for valuable presentations and conversations every Tuesday and Thursday from 2:00 to 3:30 PM ET starting on September 9 and ending on October 19, 2021.

Sessions at the Fifth annual 2021 Sustainable Fleet Technology Virtual Conference (SFT) will showcase the latest and greatest in sustainable fleet technologies and alternative fuel operations, as well as implementation in the biofuels, electric, natural gas, hydrogen and propane arenas. Session topics and speakers were carefully selected to highlight the current technologies, topics and issues happening in today’s fleet industry as we navigate the rapidly evolving transportation industry.

Richard Sapienza, Director of the Clean Transportation program at NC Clean Energy Technology Center, surveys fleet managers year-round to find relevant session topics suited for their needs. There are a myriad of strategies to achieve fleet sustainability and new clean transportation technologies are always on the horizon, and topics discussed at the SFT are meant to share best practices and lessons learned across the industry.

Currently, both public and private fleets in the United States are gearing up for an electric vehicle revolution as the transition towards vehicle electrification expands. Transitioning entire fleets away from conventional fuel vehicles, however, is a much more complex process than individuals deciding to go electric.

“This transition affects every fleet from light to medium to heavy-duty vehicles, which all have different use cases and needs regarding power levels, charging and range,” Sapienza explained. “You can’t just flip a switch and instantly see the change, but we’re hoping to make that change more accessible for these fleet managers.”

Attendees of SFT can expect to learn and share more about electric vehicle infrastructure planning, alternative and renewable fuels applications and decarbonization uses, idle reduction, sustainable fleet management and more. Session topics include a strong focus on data-driven decisions, tools and technologies from real-world applications of leading edge technologies.

Alternative fuels such as hydrogen and natural gas have proven to be viable ways for fleets to reduce emissions and help conserve fuel. Not only are alternative fuels featured in a session on fleet decarbonization, but attendees can also learn from success stories about propane autogas and natural gas applications in addition to a session focused on hydrogen as a transportation solution.

SFT 2021 features award-winning and expert speakers who will share the best practices to help fleets run more efficiently. From simple strategies like idle-reduction programs to more complex strategies including fleet charging costs and deployment, the conference agenda covers it all. Each session spotlights different opportunities for fleets to find the best solutions for managing a sustainable fleet.

Building towards a sustainable fleet is a multi-aspect process that involves planning, understanding, learning, tracking, analyzing, training and changing organizational culture, which can be challenging for individual fleets to navigate. SFT serves as a resource for public and private fleets by leveraging the knowledge of top performing fleets and industry experts sharing their best practices and operations for increasing vehicle fleet efficiency and sustainability.

“We’re trying to build a community to exchange and share ideas from lessons learned so that we can all avoid the potholes in the road,” Sapienza said. Early-adopters exist for every trend and technology, and fleet managers can learn from them to increase their own fleet’s efficiency both environmentally and economically.

The sustainable fleet practices presented at SFT 2021 provide a process of continuous improvement, fleet modernization and impact and risk reduction, while also working towards decarbonization and cost savings.

Who should attend?

  • Public & Private Fleet Managers
  • Purchasing Officials
  • State Government Leaders
  • Municipal Government Officials
  • Non-Profit Stakeholders
  • Clean Cities Coalitions & Stakeholders
  • Alternative Fuel Trade Organizations
  • Sustainability Managers
  • Academic Leaders & Researchers

Learn more & register for individual SFT 2021 virtual sessions below:

Don’t miss out on future updates for the 2021 Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference- sign up for the clean transportation newsletter or stay tuned online at www.sustainablefleetexpo.com.


The NC Clean Energy Technology Center hosts the Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference as part of its mission to advance a sustainable energy economy by educating, demonstrating and providing support for clean energy technologies, practices and policies.

Posted by Nicole Deck

Duke Energy Electrifies Fleet with Viatec SmartPTO

A Viatec SmartPTO unit. Photo from www.viatec.us.

Duke Energy recently introduced Viatec SmartPTO electric power takeoff units for its bucket truck fleet. The new units allow crews to turn off the diesel engine and rely on electricity when operating the lift – saving on fuel and maintenance costs, extending the life of the trucks, and reducing emissions. The SmartPTO units were funded by NC Clean Energy Technology Center’s (NCCETC) Clean Fuel Advanced Technology (CFAT) project.

“A major objective of CFAT is to promote and accelerate the adoption of new clean transportation technologies,” said Rick Sapienza, Director of the Clean Transportation Program at NCCETC. “The Viatec SmartPTO is a perfect example of the CFAT mechanism working to its intent.”

The battery outlasts the normal bucket truck shift and charges overnight on a basic 110-volt receptacle, according to Duke Energy. When needed, crews are able to revert to operating the lift from the diesel engine in emergency situations, such as storms, that require 24-hour use. The engine being off also allows crew members to more easily communicate from the bucket to the ground.

“I’m especially pleased for the operators of these trucks and the line-workers who ride in the bucket, because air-quality on the job site is so dramatically improved when these trucks can stop idling,” said John Bonitz, Clean Transportation Specialist at NCCETC.

Duke Energy plans to soon expand SmartPTOs to 24 bucket trucks and is considering making them standard on all new bucket trucks.

“A company of the stature and magnitude of Duke Energy embracing this technology will aid in pushing others in the industry to consider and adopt the SmartPTO technology,” Sapienza said. “SmartPTO is robust from a system standpoint, which means reliability and durability. Also, if there is a system breakdown or failure, the system is a parallel design and the truck can revert to its normal mode of operation. Regardless, the truck can remain in service and complete its job.”

NCCETC estimates that bucket trucks burn nearly a gallon of diesel fuels per hour of idling. Based on an industry study conducted by Quanta Services (Green Truck Show March 2018), an electric PTO system is estimated to save about 1800 gallons of fuel annually, in standard operations. In addition, eliminating the idling on the truck engine also reduces carbon emissions to the tune of almost 38,000 pounds of CO2.  The noiseless operation of systems creates safer operating conditions for the crew and the reduced wear-and-tear on the truck engine extends the truck life.

“The units involve much less integration with the chassis or the aerial equipment relative to their competitors,” said Mike Allison, Duke Energy’s Director of Fleet Design and Technical services. ”There is no loss of performance vs. running off of the diesel engine and chassis PTO. Fuel reductions have been as expected and the units are extremely quiet.”

The CFAT program, which NCCETC has administered since 2006, aims to reduce transportation-related air pollution emissions by funding public and private organizations projects in 24 eligible North Carolina counties. CFAT is supported with federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality (CMAQ) funds provided by the NC Department of Transportation (NC DOT). In 2019, up to $2,350,000 in federal funding is being awarded. The next Request for Proposals for CFAT will be targeted for January 8, 2020, and applications will be due March 17.

In 2018, Town of Apex installed three SmartPTO units after being awarded the CFAT grant. Take a look at many more CFAT funded projects here.

“We are appreciative of the work that has been done by [NCCETC] in making the funds available to jump start our movement to the Viatec system,” Allison said.

“The financial assistance makes the difference between an organization doing a project or not,” Sapienza said. “Quite often once an organization gains experience and realizes the results and impact of the various technologies, they continue expanding their use without funding, because it makes sense due to efficiency, financial and ecological reasons – a win all around.”

Stay updated and learn more about the CFAT grant here.

Six National Drive Electric Week Events This September

 

Join the NC Clean Energy Technology Center for National Drive Electric Week 2019! We will have six events located in Winston-Salem, Pittsboro and Raleigh, NC, including vehicle expos/tailgates, ride and drives, and driver meet-ups. Visit www.DriveElectricWeek.org to find an event near you!

Electric Vehicle Car Show & Tailgate, 4-6 p.m. Friday, September 13 in Winston-Salem, BB&T Field: Join us to kick off National Drive Electric Week at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem with a tailgate and plug-in electric vehicle car show at the Wake Forest Vs. UNC Chapel Hill football game!  Kick-off is at 6 p.m. on Friday, September 13. The vehicles will be located in front of the Bridger Field House.

(For game day on Friday, due to the congestion and traffic, if you do not have tickets for the game or parking arrangements, it is not advised that you come visit the plug-in electric vehicle show. )

Register here.

Driver Meet-Up, Car Show + Ride & Drive, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. September 14 in Winston-Salem, BB&T Field:  On Saturday, September 14 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., bring your plug-in vehicle to a driver meet-up, car show and ride and drive, which is open to the public. The vehicles will be located in the Gold Parking Lot across from Bridger Field House.

Register here.

Electric Vehicle Car Show + Ride & Drive on Thursday, September 19 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Join us for a car show and ride & drive at Venture Plaza on NC State University’s Centennial campus. For this lunchtime event, there will be food trucks, static EVs and PHEVs to look at as well as test-drive. If you are an owner, there will be room for up to 10 static vehicles for the static car show. Owners are also welcome to participate in the ride & drive portion of the event.

For those who just want to visit and are not part of the Centennial Campus community, pay public parking is available in front of the Hunt Library. This is the same venue as the spring 2019 Earth Day event and will be a similar setup. Come on out have lunch and learn about driving on electricity!

Register here.

Driver Meet-Up & Car Show on Friday, September 20 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.: Join us for a plug-in electric vehicle driver meet-up, car show, and ride & drive outside the Close-King Indoor practice facility at the corner of Westchase Boulevard and Peter Karmanos Jr. Drive, next to Carter Finley Stadium.  Bring your plug-in vehicle. Open to the public.

Register here.

Electric Vehicle Show & Tailgate on Saturday, September 21, time TBD: Join us for a tailgate and plug-in electric vehicle car show outside the Close-King Indoor practice facility at the corner of Westchase Boulevard and Peter Karmanos Jr. Drive, next to Carter-Finley Stadium. Come learn about electric, plug-in hybrid electric and hybrid electric vehicles, as well as register for a chance to win NC State University Football prizes!

(For game day on Saturday, due to congestion and traffic, if you do not have tickets for the game or parking arrangements, it is not advised that you come visit the plug-in electric vehicle show.)

Electric Vehicle Car Show at Pepperfest, Downtown Pittsboro, 3-6 p.m. Sunday, September 22: Join us at the 2019 Pepper Festival in Downtown Pittsboro to check out a display of plug-in electric and hybrid vehicles, and talk to us to learn more about them.

Learn more and find an event near you at www.DriveElectricWeek.org!

Electric Vehicles With UNC Charlotte

Considering alternative fuels for your fleet? Learn more about electric vehicles!

We visited the University of North Carolina at Charlotte last year to talk to Chris Facente, Automotive and Motor Fleet Supervisor, about the university’s fleet of electric vehicles. Check out our video on it here.

The University of North Carolina at Charlotte has 115 electric vehicles on its campus, including Polaris GEMs and Nissan Leafs. Facente said they’d like their fleet to be 25 percent electric in about two years.

Electric vehicles are cheaper to run because they don’t require gas and require less maintenance – and they produce no harmful emissions.

Chris Facente
Rick Sapienza, NCCETC Clean Transportation Program Manager

Learn more about electric vehicles and if this option could be right for your fleet at www.cleantransportation.org.

Fleet Efficiency & Sustainability in a Campus Setting

Neighborhood electric vehicle fleet at UNC Charlotte. Photo provided by Chris Facente at UNC Charlotte.

 

Pre-Conference Day Workshop: Fleet Efficiency & Sustainability in a Campus Setting

Tuesday, August 6 | 10 a.m. – 12 p.m.

This session, on pre-conference day before the Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference & Expo 2019 in Durham, NC, will focus on the metrics needed to make smart decisions for alternative fuels and technologies in various campus settings. Maintenance will be discussed as part of the conversation along with how to equip fleets for these changes. Learn from real-world case studies and experienced fleet managers working in campus settings. Specific topics will include a look at total cost of ownership, applications, examples of vehicles, and what the future holds for fleets.

Speakers:
William Evans – Princeton University
Chris Facente – UNC Charlotte
Kathy Wellik – Iowa State University
Charles Bey – UNC Asheville
Ronald Gitelman – Yale University
Michael Duffy – University of Virginia

Both Yale University and the University of Virginia are NAFA Sustainable Fleet Accredited, and Iowa State University is in process for accreditation.

Learn more about the workshop and conference, and register now at www.sustainablefleetexpo.com!

Alternative Fuels for Fleets: Natural Gas With Waste Management

Considering alternative fuels for your fleet? Learn more about natural gas!

We visited a Waste Management site in North Carolina last year and talked to Project Manager Amanda Fairley about their fleet of natural gas vehicles. Check out our new video on it here!

Waste Management, a waste management, comprehensive waste, and environmental services company, has 21 million customers throughout North America, with 24,000 vehicles – 6,500 of which are compressed natural gas (CNG).

Whether produced via conventional or renewable methods, the advantages of natural gas as an alternative fuel include its domestic availability, established distribution network, relatively low cost, and emissions benefits, according to the Alternative Fuels Data Center.

Learn more about Waste Management and its fleet on the company’s website here. Learn more about natural gas and if this option could be right for your fleet at cleantransportation.org.

Alternative Fuel Vehicle Tailgate at Durham Bulls Game

Join us for an Alternative Fuel Vehicle Tailgate before the Durham Bulls baseball game on Saturday, July 13 from 5:30-6:35 p.m. outside of the Durham Bulls Athletic Park stadium! Check out a lineup of alternative fuel vehicles, which may include electric, hybrid/plug-in hybrid electric, propane, natural gas, biodiesel or ethanol.

Two New Webinars: Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference Preview

Join us for two new, free webinars previewing some of the technologies and speakers that will be featured at the Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference in Durham, NC, August 7-8 with pre-conference events August 6.

The preview webinars will be June 27 and July 11, both from 2 to 3:30 p.m.

The Sustainable Fleet Technology Conference provides an opportunity for fleet managers and transportation professionals to experience the latest vehicle technology, tools and resources designed to increase efficiency and reduce emissions. The event will include keynote presentations, 50+ speakers, breakout sessions, exhibit booths, indoor vehicle/equipment display, and networking.

Conference session topics include Electric Vehicles; Natural Gas; Propane; Biofuel Solutions; Electrification and the Grid; Telematics; Procurement Solutions; Infrastructure and Intelligent Solutions; Heavy Duty Vehicle Efficiency; Rural Fleet Operations; Idle Reduction; and Recruiting, Retention & Career Development. View the full agenda here.

Each webinar will feature different conference topics and speakers, who will give you a preview of what they’ll cover at the event.

Register for the June 27 webinar here, and the July 11 webinar here.

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