A primary school in New York is using an electric bus to offer kids a pollution-free lift to and from school as part of a trial that will also see it feed energy back into the grid during hot summer months.
Equipped with bidirectional charging capabilities (much like Nissan’s latest Leaf), the electric bus made by Lion Electric Co is in effect a “battery on wheels”.
It is one of five being used across the state of New York as part of electric company Con Edison’s pilot to support the grid during hot months when children are not at school.
By charging the batteries of the buses at times of low electricity demand (and when it is cheaper), the company will then be able to discharge the energy stored in the electric bus batteries at peak times – for example during the middle of the day when air conditioner use is high.
When the children are not on holidays, the buses will be used to offer a zero emissions alternative to transport for the children.
Dr. Joseph Ricca, superintendent of schools in White Plains said in a statement when the pilot was first announced that the White Plains School District (NY) is very excited at the prospect of using the electric school buses.
Operated by school transport service provider National Express, and paid for in collaboration with Con Edison via a New York incentive program to reduce the cost of purchasing zero and low emissions transport options, the cost of energy for the buses during school months is covered by National Express.
In summer, Con Edison pays for the right to use the buses as virtual power stations, while parked at National’s depot.
“With Lion Electric providing five buses to our contractor, National Express, and the services of Con Edison, our children will experience the most technologically advanced means of transportation and our community will benefit from the positive environmental impact,” Ricca said.
According to John Shipman, department manager of demonstration projects for Con Edison, the fact that the buses can be used as batteries during the hot summer months when kids are not at school is a perfect synergy.
“We think school buses have unique potential to help us keep our service reliable and contribute to a clean environment,” he said in a statement.
“These buses will provide clean transportation for students during the school year and be available to us for grid support during the summer. There’s a nice fit between the school schedule and our customers’ need for power.”
According to Bloomberg Environment, more than 480,000 school buses are driven every day to transport around 25 million students in the US.
With 10% of these based in New York state, a complete transition to electric buses such as those built by Lion Electric Co could eliminate 185,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
Bridie Schmidt is lead reporter for The Driven, sister site of Renew Economy. She specialises in writing about new technology and has been writing about electric vehicles for two years. She has a keen interest in the role that zero emissions transport has to play in sustainability and is co-organiser of the Northern Rivers Electric Vehicle Forum.