Duke Energy's Microgrid-Electric Fleet Hub

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KnowESG_Duke Energy
Image courtesy of www.duke-energy.com

Duke Energy plans to construct a cutting-edge performance centre at its Mount Holly Technology and Innovation Center. The facility will be the first of its kind and will serve as a platform for the advancement, experimentation, and implementation of electric vehicle (EV) fleets that produce zero emissions.

“Electric fleet commitments are increasing as companies with ambitious sustainability goals work to decarbonize business operations,” said Harry Sideris, executive vice president of customer experience, solutions, and services for Duke Energy. “We are helping speed commercial fleet electrification across the Duke Energy footprint through innovations like this while we electrify our own fleet.”

Duke Energy's Mount Holly Microgrid Center will soon house a fleet electrification centre designed to cater to commercial fleet customers exploring or implementing electrification strategies.

The facility will provide a top-notch charging experience, ensuring reliability, clean energy, and optimisation by integrating microgrid control software applications, energy storage, and solar power. Fleet operators can enjoy a premium fleet depot integrated with optimisation software, solar energy, and energy storage and showcasing a reliable model for electrifying fleets by the end of 2023.

The electrification centre can be connected to Duke Energy's grid and charged from the bulk electric system, or it can be powered entirely by carbon-free resources through the microgrid at Mount Holly. This project marks the first electric fleet depot to offer a microgrid charging option.

"Moving to zero-emission vehicles in this sector will allow North Carolina to seize the enormous economic potential this transition presents, generating billions in net benefits for our state. Projects like this are key for North Carolina fleet owners to take advantage of the cost savings in transitioning to electric vehicles,” said Will Scott, director of southeast climate and energy, Environmental Defense Fund.

Duke Energy is partnering with Electrada, a company specialising in electric fuel solutions, as part of a wider collaboration aimed at electrifying fleets. Electrada invests all the necessary capital "behind the meter" on behalf of fleet owners, providing reliable charging to fleet electric vehicles via a performance contract. This approach eliminates the complexity and risks that often accompany the transition to this new fuel source, thus ensuring a seamless and secure conversion for fleets.

Additionally, Electrada's model ensures grid integrity and removes the volatility of charging prices for electric fleets. By investing in the depot, Electrada frees up Duke Energy to focus on the performance of the distribution system to support the gradual and predictable addition of electric load over time.

“Reducing long-term energy cost and performance risk creates a smoother transition for fleets, increases confidence in electrification, and enables the technology to become more mainstream,” said Kevin Kushman, CEO of Electrada.

Daimler Truck North America (DTNA), the biggest manufacturer of heavy-duty trucks in North America and a top producer of battery-electric trucks, will be a founding participant in the fleet EV charging programme at the Duke Energy Emerging Technology and Innovation Center, joining Duke Energy and Electrada.

The proximity of one of DTNA's largest East Coast manufacturing facilities to the centre makes it an ideal opportunity to leverage the chargers at the site and demonstrate charging technologies to customers visiting the plant in the future.

“This first-of-its-kind, microgrid-enabled fleet depot will be critical to advancing fleet electrification and building confidence with fleet owners. We look forward to collaborating with Duke Energy and Electrada on this important effort,” said Jeff Allen, senior vice president of operations and specialty vehicles at DTNA.

The site will not only serve as a fleet charging station, but it will also operate as an innovation hub where Duke Energy can analyse charger usage, performance, management, and energy integration.

By exploring the use of EV charging technologies to power a wide range of fleets, from class 1 (pickups) to class 8 (over-the-road haulers), Duke Energy will develop a model that demonstrates a clear, integrated, and cost-effective path to fleet electrification. Testing various charging scenarios will enable energy load shaping, which will ensure proper grid or microgrid distribution.

The Duke Energy fleet depot will showcase the possibility of planning, deploying, and operating utilities, emerging fleet charging infrastructure solutions, and vehicles in a reliable, efficient, and interoperable manner while integrating distributed power resources like solar and stationary battery storage.

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Source: Duke Energy

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