Maryland county deploys microgrid to electrify bus fleets

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A microgrid project set to be deployed as a result of a partnership between Montgomery County in the US state of Maryland and various technology companies will help accelerate the electrification of the transport system whilst helping the county reduce its carbon emissions and boost grid reliability.

Energy services company AlphaStruxure, a joint venture of Schneider Electric and the Carlyle Global Infrastructure Opportunity Fund, has reached an agreement with Montgomery County for the design, construction, financing, ownership, and operation of the Brookville Smart Energy Bus Depot.

A microgrid will be built and electric vehicle charging infrastructure installed to enable Montgomery County’s 44 Ride On buses to transition from diesel to electric. With transportation being one of the largest emitters of carbon in the US, the project is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 155,000 tons during the lifetime of the buses, helping the county to achieve its net-zero goals by 2035.

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Director of Montgomery County Department of General Services, David Dise, said: “The Smart Energy Bus Depot project provides a national model for local governments, transit agencies, and the private sector looking to electrify their fleets.

“Rather than buying the microgrid and charging infrastructure outright, the County partnered with AlphaStruxure, who builds, owns, operates, and maintains the system. The County then purchases the electricity and resilience supplied by the microgrid and charging infrastructure on an ongoing basis. This model delivers the supporting infrastructure required to electrify our bus fleet, customised to our specific needs, at no upfront cost while also enhancing resilience and environmental sustainability.”

The project, first-of-its-kind integration of microgrid and EV charging infrastructure for the County’s public transportation system, will provide benefits such as:

  • Environmental sustainability: The transport electrification project is expected to help the county to reduce its carbon emissions from the buses by 62%.
  • Climate resilience and operational reliability: The project will ensure uninterrupted bus services during any long-term power outages caused by severe weather as well as any short-term disturbances or perturbations of the utility grid.
  • Flexible fleet operations: By avoiding utility demand charges and time-of-use tariffs, the county will be able to save big and reduce its energy bills that would have been incurred if the buses were charging from the main grid network.
  • Financial benefits:  The energy as a service approach eliminates the upfront cost to the County for the project including all microgrid and charging infrastructure, and provides long-term cost predictability for energy supply.
  • Economic development: The project will enable the creation of some 50 construction jobs.

A solar energy plant will be built and integrated with Schneider Electric’s microgrid controller and energy distribution equipment. SunPower will build and supply the solar PV canopies to be used in the project, AB Energy USA will provide a carbon neutral fuel transition strategy whilst Dynapower will supply battery energy storage. The Mobility House will provide charging and energy management software and Arup its engineering services for the project. Heliox will supply the EV chargers to be used for charging the buses and Mortenson will provide construction services.

The energy generation, storage and usage will be operated by AlphaStruxure via a cloud Network Operations Center in real-time.

Montgomery County council president, Tom Hucker, reiterates: “Electrifying our bus fleets is a necessary step in reducing carbon emissions, which is why the microgrid and electrification project brings us one step closer to meeting our ambitious climate goals.”