If you build it, they will… charge?
Duke Energy is hoping to test and accelerate commercial fleet electrification by building a microgrid-integrated charging depot at its innovation center in North Carolina.
The charging depot, located at Duke Energy’s Mount Holly Technology and Innovation Center, will allow fleet operators to experience a commercial-grade fleet depot, integrated with energy storage, solar and optimisation software, showcasing a model for reliable fleet electrification.
Duke Energy aims to bring the fleet charging depot online by the end of 2023.
The center will be able to be connected either to the Duke Energy grid, charging from the bulk electric system, or powered by 100% carbon-free resources through the microgrid located at Mount Holly. The project is the first electric fleet depot to offer a microgrid charging option, Duke Energy said.
Duke Energy partnered with Electrada, an electric fuel solutions company, as part of a larger fleet electrification collaboration. Electrada invests all required capital “behind the meter” on behalf of fleet owners and delivers reliable charging to fleet electric vehicles through a performance contract, eliminating the complexity and risk that fleets face in transitioning to this new source of fuel.
Electrada’s investment on the depot side allows Duke Energy to focus on distribution system performance to support the predictable addition of electric load over time.
Daimler Truck North America (DTNA), the largest heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America and leading producer of battery-electric trucks, will join Duke Energy and Electrada as a founding participant in the fleet EV charging program at the Duke Energy Emerging Technology and Innovation Center.
One of DTNA’s largest East Coast manufacturing facilities is located directly adjacent to the center; this proximity creates an ideal opportunity to utilize the chargers at the site and also demonstrate charging technologies to customers visiting the plant in the future.
Identifying EV charging technologies and how they may be used to power any type of fleet with vehicles ranging from class 1 (pickups) to class 8 (over-the-road haulers) will help develop a model that shows the industry a clear, integrated and cost-effective path to fleet electrification.
Testing various models of charging scenarios will enable energy load shaping, which can be used to ensure proper grid or microgrid distribution.