Vehicle-to-Grid Pilot: Leveraging Big Batteries on Electric School Buses to Support the Grid

Editor’s Note: In celebration of Earth Day on April 22, we will share updates throughout this week on a series of clean energy projects that we are developing. These projects represent some of the concrete steps that we are taking to deliver on our pledge to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

When we see electric vehicles (EVs) on the road, one of the first things that come to mind for many of us is their environmental benefits – the fact that EVs produce low or zero tailpipe emissions. They also catch our attention these days because many models look fun and stylish.

As EVs become increasingly popular, they have the potential to provide another significant benefit. Emerging vehicle-to-grid (V2G) technology allows for bi-directional flow of electrons, so EVs can become a grid asset. Batteries on board vehicles can bolster grid reliability by returning electricity to the grid during times of high energy demand.

In May, we will break ground on a five-year V2G pilot in partnership with the Cajon Valley Union School District in East San Diego County. The project will connect six electric school buses to 60kW bi-directional DC fast chargers. The batteries on board the buses will soak up energy during downtime and when clean energy is abundant on the grid (such as midday when solar energy production is at its peak) and returns energy to the grid in the afternoon and evening, as solar energy fades away.

The goal is to help ease the strain on the grid, reduce energy costs for the school district and explore new technology to support the pathway to net zero.

Partnering for Success

We helped the Cajon Valley Union School District secure federal funding to purchase the electric buses and will install all the electrical upgrades and charging stations that are needed to enable the bidirectional flow of electricity.

The V2G technology that will be used in the pilot is developed by a San Diego-based company called Nuvve.  “We need a grid that is resilient,” said Marc Trahand, executive vice president of marketing with Nuvve. “That enables the use of renewable energy in maximum capacity.”