School Buses as Batteries

Con Edison is leading a pilot project to use White Plains’ buses as a backup energy source. In the summer, when they’re not being driven, the buses can charge up at night, and then the electricity stored in the batteries can be sent back to the grid as needed. Kahn says this can help the utility meet demand for electricity at peak times – such as hot afternoons when air conditioners are running.

Climate Denial Crock of the Week

magic20schoolYale Climate Connections:

In 2018, five electric school buses hit the streets of White Plains, New York. They provide a quiet ride with no tailpipe emissions. Soon, they’ll do even more.

Ari Kahn is with Con Edison, the utility serving White Plains. As electric buses became available, Con Edison began considering their potential benefits.

“We were able to kind of come in and say, ‘Huh, now that a school bus is electric, what other capabilities does it have?’” Kahn says.

Con Edison is leading a pilot project to use White Plains’ buses as a backup energy source. In the summer, when they’re not being driven, the buses can charge up at night, and then the electricity stored in the batteries can be sent back to the grid as needed.

Kahn says this can help the utility meet demand for electricity at peak times – such as hot afternoons when air…

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5 thoughts on “School Buses as Batteries

  1. Con Edison? Emphasize the “con” bit? When I read that, the first thing that came to mind was the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Everytime energy is transferred from one system to another, chaos or entropy, i.e. net loss of useful energy, occurs. Then I thought, hm, where does the initial energy source from: coal fired plant? Nuclear plant? Then, hm, how excited is the city’s electrical grid going to get when some school busses’ energy load is wired back into the grid after having been taken out of it? How great a difference will a few hundred kw of power taken from bus batteries make to the grid? If the entropic loss is factored in, where’s the gain? Even as sci-fi, I’d give it a very low rating as a story. I think it’s more propaganda…

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  2. My reaction was somewhat different, Sha’Tara, perhaps because we have had a huge uptake of solar PV electricity in Australia and New Zealand. Kiwis with solar PV panels are starting to use their electric cars for energy storage on the days they’re not in use. Lithium storage batteries are still extremely expensive here. I assumed the article was referring to renewably produced electricity. You’re right. The scheme doesn’t make much sense otherwise.

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    • From your point of view, it does make sense. Why not use your own stored electricity? If course, if you’ve just drained your car and you suddenly need it… I operate on an on-call basis so if I had an electric car it would have to be charged up at all times (except when in use of course) If I wanted to store electricity I would have to invest in stationary batteries. So far the cost of switching, wholly or partially, to solar panel electricity is prohibitive here, plus (you probably know this, I think you’re from the West coast) we spend half the year without sunshine. There is no wind here to speak of so wind power is n/a. A thought: doesn’t the additional re-charging and draining of Li-Ion batteries shorten their life? Is it an economic tradeoff on the long run?

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      • To the best of my knowledge, lithium batteries have a predictable lifespan and last longer if they’re charged regularly. I’m really interested in schemes they have developed in California allowing homeowners affected by the blackouts to “rent” lithium batteries instead of using diesel generators. In addition research is advancing into solid state batteries as an alternative to lithium batteries.

        https://www.wired.co.uk/article/what-is-solid-state-battery-toyota-dyson

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        • I use a lot of Li-ion batteries for outdoor tools beyond the reach of cable power, i.e., landscaping, apart from 2-cycle gas powered tools, and I’ve heard both sides: wait until the battery is run down, recharge regularly. Most contractors seem to go with the “recharge regularly” rule as the first thing they do in the morning is load up their chargers. Yes, there seems to be a lot of activity regarding the development of a working solid state battery capable of running EV’s. Toyota seems confident they’re close. Others, not so certain. They still use lithium, it seems, a non-renewable, finite resource. Seems to me that the final answer will be, redesign your communities and re-learn how to walk to work, field, garden or shopping. A lot more effort should be put into electrically assisted hand-pulled carts and bicycles. Time to start thinking (again) that small is beautiful. We could do it if we stopped thinking that the “Henry Ford” model of transportation is the only model. How much arable land has been destroyed by commuter towns and highways? I don’t even want to look that up. How many wars fought to “secure the oil” and how many millions killed directly and by fossil fuel pollution? One thing about Earthians, they are not a deep thinking species, are they.

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