Duke Energy is helping speed commercial fleet electrification across its footprint through an electric fleet test center that explores EV power sources such as renewable energy and microgrids. -...

Duke Energy is helping speed commercial fleet electrification across its footprint through an electric fleet test center that explores EV power sources such as renewable energy and microgrids.

Photo: Duke Energy

Duke Energy plans to build performance center that will develop, test and deploy zero-emissions light-, medium- and heavy-duty commercial electric vehicle (EV) fleets, the company announced Feb. 21.

The site will be located at Duke Energy’s Mount Holly Technology and Innovation Center and will use a microgrid. Mount Holly is a small suburban city in northeastern Gaston County, North Carolina.

The fleet electrification center will provide a commercial-grade charging experience for fleet customers evaluating or launching electrification strategies. It stresses reliability, clean power and optimization by integrating with solar, storage and microgrid controls software applications.

By the end of 2023, fleet operators will be able to use a fleet depot, integrated with energy storage, solar and optimization software, showcasing a model for fleet electrification. 

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.

On this effort, Duke Energy is teaming 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.

The Electrada model provides secure and seamless conversion for fleets that ensures grid integrity and removes electric fleet charging price volatility. 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.

“Reducing long-term energy cost and performance risk creates a smoother transition for fleets, increases confidence in electrification, and enables the technology to become more mainstream,” said Kevin Kushman, CEO of Electrada, in a news release.

Daimler Truck North America (DTNA), a heavy-duty truck manufacturer in North America and 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 lies adjacent to the center; this proximity creates an ideal opportunity to use the chargers at the site and also demonstrate charging technologies to customers visiting the plant in the future.

“This first-of-its-kind, microgrid-enabled fleet depot will be critical to advancing fleet electrification and building confidence with fleet owners,” said Jeff Allen, senior vice president of operations and specialty vehicles at DTNA.

 

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