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DERs: Solar, Battery Storage Could Reduce Fleet Electrification Costs

January 19, 2021

Source: ACT News

Deployment of medium- and heavy-duty battery electric vehicles for commercial fleets is accelerating. Commercial offerings of these vehicles have increased, and medium- to large-scale vehicle purchases are beginning to occur in leading fleets. At the same time, local, state and federal policy and goal setting for zero-emission vehicle adoption is expanding. However, lack of access to fleet operations data that can be used to quantify needs, costs, and operational conditions involving vehicle charging have led to significant uncertainty about the value of EV-specific utility rates, on-site electricity generation, and storage systems proposed as important components of fleet electrification projects.

GNA recently completed a study estimating charging costs based on real world trip data provided by a pair of commercial fleets — NFI and Schneider — in an effort to map out the costs of charging and how to mitigate some of these expenses with utility rate selection and use of distributed energy resources, or DERs, such as on-site solar panels and battery energy storage systems.

Facing the Facts, Understanding the Needs

The Class 8 truck sector represents one of the of the most noteworthy sources of emissions, and efforts to electrify these fleets has presented a number of hurdles to overcome. Fleet-specific driving schedules combined with hauling heavy loads over long distances has made this possible progression even more difficult with the range constraints of electric trucks. This fact is noted by fleets that would need to depend on these vehicles meeting charging and operational demands with the electric vehicle technology that currently exists.

With this understanding, our study looked at data from two separate Class 8 semi-tractor deployment projects in California to evaluate the costs of charging and the extent to which existing truck trips could be electrified with current and near-term battery-electric trucks and charging systems. The study focused on four key areas: fleet needs, electric loads, charging rates and scenarios, and integration of DERs. We evaluated 16 different combinations of charging power and traction battery capacity — varying from battery capacities between 300-1000 kWh and charging station power from 50-800 kW — to assess charging costs against real world trip data.

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