21 Bv Fleet Decarb 1000 W

Running on clean energy

May 6, 2021
Randal Kaufman from Black & Veatch’s Transformative Technologies business discusses how fleet operators must navigate new technologies, infrastructure choices, and supply chains as renewable power and hydrogen become the new fuels.

Whether to meet corporate sustainability goals, to comply with regulations, or for cost-efficiencies — or all the above — fleet operators from coast-to-coast are preparing to decarbonize their fleets.

Zero-emission vehicles (ZEV) have gone from “coming soon” futuristic ideas to high-performance here-now realities. Dozens of electric vehicles (EV) and several hydrogen fuel cell electric (FCEV) models are on the market today. Hundreds will be available, from every major producer, by 2024.

According to CALSTART’s Global Commercial Drive to Zero initiative, more than 108 models of commercial freight vehicles – including zero-emission heavy-duty trucks, medium-duty truck and vans, and yard tractors – will be available from 46 manufacturers this year.

Funding is flowing in the form of federal and state grants as well as utility make-ready programs, which all help alleviate cost concerns and attract early adopters.­­

“The timing is right for fleet decarbonization,” said Paul Stith, director of global transportation initiatives at Black & Veatch. “Businesses and organizations, both large and small, are becoming early movers in the zero-emission transition. Ensuring clean energy planning as part of their early programs will be their competitive advantage in the race to decarbonization.”

Global engineering and construction company Black & Veatch, an early entrant in the clean transportation market, provides the planning, design, engineering, permitting and construction services for zero-emission fleet infrastructure.

Black & Veatch has deployed thousands of high-power EV charging stations across the country, as well as the first major U.S. hydrogen refueling network. The company also is working with fleet operators to plan and deploy ZEV fleets.

“More fleet owners are coming to us early in the planning stages, which will help them tremendously in the long run,” said CJ Berg, consultant for management consulting at Black & Veatch. “What might start as a pilot of a few zero-emission vehicles can turn into a comprehensive plan to scale in a cost-effective way, and to build in resilience for those times when the power goes out, or there is an extreme weather event.”

Navigating the journey to a ZEV fleet can be complex. If life is a highway, then ZEV planning is an exploratory road trip, where fleet operators encounter new technologies, infrastructure choices, and supply chains as electricity and hydrogen become their new fuels. The Black & Veatch eBook, Fleet Decarbonization, outlines 8 Steps to ZEV. Each marks a drive toward ZEV fleet infrastructure deployment, broken down into manageable legs of the journey.

  1. Define Fleet Characteristics and Use Define duty/drive cycles, fleet route length and conditions, lifetime cycles, payload, dwell time, and maintenance and operational considerations. This information helps determine the total cost of operations (TCO), optimize technologies, and translate route data into cost savings.
  2. Review and Select Technology Options Consider types of vehicles, and charging/fueling technologies, and software/networking capabilities. These selections help managers build an optimal system and integrate on-site facilities and distributed energy resources. A networked system is especially valuable as the size of fleets and capacities grow exponentially.
  3. Understand Demand for On-Site Electric Power/Hydrogen ZEV sites need power, which may require equipment upgrades to grid elements and building facilities to support on-site charging and hydrogen production. Building retrofits require electrical and utility interface planning, cooling design, and space for equipment.
  4. Site Selection and Planning Careful consideration of zoning, permitting, physical space, and power supply is critical. If new sites are needed, then thoughtful and informed site selection will minimize project cost and time. Sites need to support a functional facility layout that is ideally located and built with the community in mind.
  5. Conduct Utility Coordination, Engineering and Design Start local and regional utility engagement early to develop a power delivery roadmap that leverages utility programs and charging rates. Calculated savings based on future charging or production loads will be incorporated into the planning process. To future-proof design, consider growth over 5-10 years (and longer) to anticipate power capacity for a facility.
  6. Apply for Permits and Approvals Zoning, land use, permitting and right-of-way requirements are complex with larger-scale developments, increased power levels, and hydrogen equipment deployment. This is driven by space requirements and the many real property agreements needed for the utility to cross parcels for power delivery. Required entitlements may include state environmental impact filings and interagency agreements and approvals.
  7. Grid/Electrical Services Upgrades New charging loads and on-site hydrogen production may require upgraded or new utility feeders, substation modernization, and even new substations. Engineering, design, and construction scopes become more substantial with increasingly complex upgrades, affecting deployment cost and schedule.
  8. Obtain/Integrate Equipment, Construct & Commission Construction can start when the fleet operator or engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) company obtains all the necessary permits and approvals, such as signed drawings, utility design package, and site safety plans.

Charting the eight steps before you begin the journey to zero-emissions will ensure a smooth ride. Each fleet has unique considerations that factor into what your “right” technology, energy, and infrastructure path will look like. Companies like Black & Veatch can help at a small scale, with micro consulting, or large-scale with complete, turnkey program management.

When it comes to fleet decarbonization, the best advice might be start small, but think big. Smart planning today will pay future dividends.

About the Author: Randal Kaufman is with Black & Veatch’s Transformative Technologies business. Randal’s expertise includes electric vehicle charging infrastructure, data centers, distributed generation, energy management, power quality, power backup systems, hydrogen generation, and hydrogen fueling. He can be reached at [email protected].

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