The push comes as more Americans buy electric vehicles. Nearly 150,000 were sold in the fourth quarter of 2021, according to a Kelley Blue Book report, and EV market share hit a record 4.5% of new car sales.
But the urgency goes beyond light passenger vehicles. The bipartisan infrastructure bill signed into law in November allocated $5 billion for the purchase of electric school buses, for example, and the first $500 million should be available within weeks.
Between cars and buses, “everyone knows now that this electrification is real and is going to happen, and they want to understand that,” said Kevin Matthews, head of electrification at First Student Inc., the operator of more than 42,000 school buses. for approximately 1,100 school districts in North America.
“Utilities know they’ll have to charge for these things, and when you look at fleets of 300 to 400 buses in a single lot, that’s a big deal for the utilities that provide power to charge that,” did he declare. “So understanding how they can work with us can really help them not only electrify more buses, but they can then take that knowledge and apply it to other types of fleets.”
The scope of the opportunity should expand considerably. The International Energy Agency estimates that there will be 130 million electric vehicles on the roads worldwide by 2030. While they will be thirsty for electricity, the Department of Energy estimates that they will will also contain 10 times the amount of storage needed by the network.
These vehicles could function as mobile batteries, supplying electricity to hospitals and water treatment systems in the event of an emergency. In everyday use, vehicles could provide power that stabilizes the grid when power from renewable resources is not available.
Vehicle owners could use their EVs to run their homes during power outages or machinery at remote job sites — two uses Ford has touted for its F-150 Lightning electric pickup. Fleet operators could reduce overhead and earn money by selling their vehicle’s electricity back to the grid.