AMPLY and Duke collaborate on innovative overhead solar-powered bus fleet electrification

The PIDE-enabled system was field-tested during a demonstration in Lancaster, California in March using a BYD K9 transit bus, equipped with overhead charging, and a Schunk Transit Systems SLS 301 pantograph DC fast charger. Credit: Amply

As public transit fleets evaluate bus electrification to meet zero-emission goals, long, expensive construction timelines can hamper deployment. To meet this need, AMPLY Power is working with Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions to expand fleet electrification offerings, including the first commercially available combination solar canopy and overhead electric vehicle charging solution covered by a power purchase agreement (PPA) leasing and financing model.

The field-tested solution, enabled by the patent-pending Pantograph In-Depot Equipment (PIDE) Canopy Mount, allows fleets to reduce the cost of EV charging while leveraging renewable electricity, according to the companies. 

AMPLY CEO Vic Shao introduced the solution at the VERGE Electrify virtual conference as a part of the innovation showcase. Integration partners that have collaborated on this offering will present in a panel afterwards at the AMPLY virtual booth.

“Solar PPAs and managed charging can help fleet operators double-down on the cost savings that electric vehicles already deliver compared to diesel. Solar power generation is usually an afterthought, and we developed this unique solution after witnessing transit agencies struggling with the costs associated with developing an overhead charging system,” said Vic Shao, CEO of AMPLY Power.

“Unlike diesel prices, electricity rates can fluctuate wildly throughout the day, sometimes by as much as 400%, making it impossible to ‘time the market’ and potentially wiping out EV savings. By combining overhead charging with a fixed rate of power, we are helping fleets bring predictability to their budgets and reduce their exposure to high rates.”

Once built and installed in a depot, AMPLY Power and Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions will manage the solar charging and maintenance operations via a PPA, a common financing model for the commercial solar industry. The solar and charging agreements extend 20 to 25 years and offer a fixed rate of power with no upfront capital expenditures.

“Our collaboration with AMPLY goes beyond solar carports with overhead chargers,” explained Dan Alcombright, Managing Director of Growth Implementation at Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions. “We are committed to supporting fleets in reaching their zero-emission targets, while incorporating more resiliency into their operations and reducing their energy costs for charging.”  

Civil and structural engineering and construction firm Teichert designed and built the PIDE canopy mount and solar carports. Customized canopies are designed to complement a variety of parking configurations within a depot and across multiple sites.  This maximizes the available parking area while minimizing the impact on site functionality. 

The PIDE-enabled system was field-tested during a demonstration in Lancaster, California in March of this year. The demonstration used a BYD K9 transit bus, equipped with overhead charging, and a Schunk Transit Systems SLS 301 pantograph DC fast charger.

Play the video below to see the innovative overhead charging system in action.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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