Accelerating the Adoption of Electric School Buses
School bus electrification is imperative because children in the developmental stage of life may face school absences, doctor/emergency room visits, and lower test scores because of exposure to diesel emissions from school buses. Unfortunately, electric school buses are unaffordable for schools today. The total financial cost becomes affordable when clean solar energy powers electric school bus batteries, and both are connected to the grid/utility to sell excess power when the grid/utility needs the power most. These existing technologies will be combined in this way for the first time by a partnership of experts. Success is measured in the amount of power flowing to/from the grid/utility, in total cost to the piloted schools in disadvantaged neighborhoods, and in profits for investors. To ensure replicability, multiple schools will be included. School and investor interest will accelerate when the exciting project results are widely published.
The solution begins by developing relationships with schools like Tompkins County BOCES, an outgrowth of an educational webinar on electric school buses (ESBs), presented by local experts, advocates and elected officials.
The solution continues with installation of solar panels at 2 of the Tompkins schools, connected to ESBs and to the grid. The ESB connection to the grid will be bi-directional (Vehicle-to-Grid, V2G). The ESBs will therefore be powered by renewable energy, and not only will the grid not need extra production, but the panels will produce more power than is needed, with the extra power sold to the grid. The objective is to provide power to the grid when needed most, using smart charging and V2G to maximize financial returns. The batteries will be used either as spinning reserves, for peak load, or for regulation. Using solar with storage (bus battery) also moderates the intermittency of solar on the grid.
The resultant total cost of ownership (TCO) of the ESBs, including infrastructure and integration, will be dramatically improved because of lower power costs (solar) and offsetting revenue from power sold to the grid.
With continued community engagement (webinars, elected officials, schools etc.), and lower TCO of the electric school buses, adoption of electrification will accelerate for Tompkins County schools as well as for others. The Tompkins County long term prognosis is lower air pollution, lower greenhouse gases (>12k kg CO2/bus/yr), better health for residents, children with fewer doctor and hospital visits, and higher student test scores, an outstanding result.