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Is Your Power Out? How About Using School Buses to Power Critical Infrastructure?

(Joseph Gottlieb, CTO, Tuesday February 16, 2021)

For anyone that lives in California (and increasingly, more and more Western states), wildfires are a part of life as climate change creates warmer and drier conditions, and with them the power outages during “red flag” conditions as utilities try to keep their backcountry lines from being an ignition source. However, wildfire and wildfire prevention aren’t the only source of utility backouts – last summer saw a large number of rolling blackouts in California due to extraordinarily high temperatures. This week, the reverse of this was true in Texas as record cold temperatures and powerline icing from Winter Storm Uri left 3.6 million homes and businesses without power in the Lone Star State, and rolling blackouts are being ordered across that region to combat power grids over-stretched by the demand for electricity to heat those homes and businesses.

Energy storage, especially energy storage deployed at the point of consumption, is an obvious solution to these issues. One form of energy storage that will likely become more important in the next few years is Vehicle-to-X (V2X), where the “X” can be “Grid” (V2G), “Building” (V2I), “Home” (V2H), or “Infrastructure” (V2I). Electric school buses are increasingly becoming one of the most attractive vehicles for V2I for several reasons: i) they have relatively large batteries; ii) they are generally available during conditions leading to power outages (“snow days” for instance); and iii) schools are often utilized as emergency shelter locations. With 480,000 school buses in the US, and with an average of 150kWh of power storage capacity in electric school buses, a fully-electrified fleet represents 72GWh of energy storage! And this is only one of the factors driving V2X for school bus fleets…

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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