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School Buses and Vehicle Electrification – A Winning Combination

(Joseph Gottlieb, CTO, Tuesday February 2, 2021)

One of the hottest topics in medium- and heavy-duty (M/HD) vehicle electrification today is the electrification of school buses. There are over 480,000 school buses in the US which carry 25 million children to school on a daily basis. From an air quality standpoint, it is easy to understand why electrification is so attractive – a 2018 study found that electrifying US school buses would cut air emissions by 5.3 million tons. This is especially important considering that the children riding those school buses are breathing that polluted air. In a sign of how important this is, the new administration of President Joe Biden has pledged that all US buses will zero emission by 2030 (nine years from now).

Besides the air pollution benefits, electrified school buses also have a distinct advantage when it comes to maintenance costs – a number of industry and federal studies have shown maintenance cost savings of up to 80% when compared to internal combustion engine (ICE) buses. This is one of the reasons why companies like leading school bus operator FirstStudent and energy producer Next Era Energy Resources are launching programs to rapidly electrify school buses. Dominion Energy, the leading energy supplier in Virginia, is also launching a program to replace diesel buses in its service area with electric buses that it will maintain and operate – this program is targeting the replacement of one thousand buses by 2025. Major school bus OEMs like Blue Bird Bus, New Flyer, Thomas Built Buses, and Lion Electric, all have programs for electrifying school buses. And companies like Rhombus Energy Solutions are building the charging infrastructure required to provide energy to these vehicles – after all, the best electric school bus in the world isn’t very useful if it cannot be reliably charged.

Rhombus has built high-power inverters for renewable energy such as “behind the meter” grid energy storage systems for several years. We have applied that expertise to the design of our latest-generation bi-directional EV charging systems (which are designed from the start for the needs of fleet operators) and bi-directional smart inverter systems for microgrids. Rhombus expertise in energy management system (EMS) software is also embedded in our VectorStat EMS controller and software which is embedded in our EV charging systems and smart inverters. Rhombus also excels in the design and testing of high-power electrical equipment to meet the requirements of UL and other certification organizations. We have built hundreds of V2G-capable high-power, high-reliability chargers and bi-directional smart inverters for a variety of different sizes and classes of EVs. Find out how we can help you by contacting us at news@rhombusenergy.com, or by reading our Vehicle to Grid Solution Brief.

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