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School buses could provide mobile power

V2G proponents do not want to miss that ride. Electrifying school buses without allowing for the two-way flow of energy would be akin to investing in pagers at a time when cellphones were on the horizon. Nuvve says V2G is more than on the horizon. The underlying technology has existed for a quarter century. The company launched its first project in Hong Kong in 2012 and started its first commercial service in Denmark in 2016. It now boasts projects on five continents, where its platform can help fleet managers connect and oversee fleets of V2G-enabled vehicles.

The potential is significant: Blue Bird is using 125-kilowatt-hour batteries that provide the grid with direct-current energy, double the 60-kWh batteries used in some other V2G projects. A dozen buses, ostensibly, could offer more than a megawatt of energy — an appealing figure for utility providers.

“When you’ve got big-city districts that have a few thousand buses, that’s a couple of power plants,” Matthews said. “That’s just a lot. They’re concentrated in big cities where demand is an issue. So it really makes a difference.”

Significant hurdles remain. Much like passenger vehicles, electric school buses have a higher initial cost compared with their conventional counterparts. Trahand estimates an EV school bus can cost $300,000, while conventional diesel-powered buses cost half that.

Savings on operations and maintenance can help offset the higher upfront costs. But interconnection agreements between utility providers and distributed system operators are often difficult to negotiate, and charging standards set between equipment providers and engineering bodies are in their infancy.

The Jeff Bezos Earth Fund-backed World Resources Institute has sought to address these issues and promote policies that support adoption of electric school buses.

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