The California Air Resources Board’s requirement for public transit agencies to transition to 100% zero-emission fleets by 2040 is moving the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) to install a solar-powered microgrid to power its fleet. The VTA received a grant for the project from the California Energy Commission.
In conjunction with Proterra and Scale Microgrid Solutions, VTA will deploy approximately 1.5MW of rooftop solar on a solar canopy at the Cerone bus yard. VTA’s current electric bus fleet consists of 40 Proterra buses, with five more on the way. Upon completion, the new charging infrastructure will be able to fully charge a bus in as little as four hours.
Proterra is a developer and producer of commercial electric vehicle technology, and, in addition to providing the electric buses, the company is installing the charging system. Scale Microgrid Solutions is the integrator of the EV infrastructure with onsite solar, 4MWh battery storage system, and a backup system that can provide power for up to 20 hours. The system will be connected to the grid, but can also enter island mode in the event of a grid outage. For extended outages, VTA has the option to easily connect a temporary generator to provide additional backup power for fleet operations. The microgrid and charging infrastructure will be linked together by a switchgear and controls package designed by Schneider Electric.
The solar PV and battery energy storage system will give VTA operational flexibility as to when to purchase the utility power needed to charge its vehicle fleet. “California’s electric grid needs distributed energy resources in order to support fully electrifying its transportation sector,” says Tim Victor of Scale Microgrid Solutions.
“This project combines several VTA goals. It shifts us toward greener sources of energy, saves VTA money that can be reallocated to other operating needs and provides the infrastructure to charge our next batch of zero-emission buses. Our riders will benefit from a newer, quieter fleet and we will decrease our contribution toward climate change and poor air quality,” said Adam Burger, Senior Transportation Planner with VTA.
The microgrid and charging infrastructure will be linked together by a switchgear and controls package designed by Schneider Electric.
The VTA also partnered with Lehigh University, whose Institute for Cyber Physical Infrastructure and Energy has been working in the “smart grid” space for nearly a decade. The system is expected to be operational in 2023.
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