In September 2022, Stem and InCharge Energy announced a partnership to equip businesses with a complete EV fleet infrastructure solution to maximize the reliability and benefits of their charging assets. The offering combines Athena®, Stem’s energy optimization platform, with InCharge Energy’s “In-Control” software platform – giving fleet owners the power to manage, optimize, and build out EV charging while monitoring environmental goals.
In a recent webinar, Stem and InCharge experts discussed how to get started pairing energy storage with solar and electric vehicle (EV) charging. The benefits of energy storage unlock value streams that will enable fleet operators, project developers, and solar EPCs to maximize renewable energy usage to meet ESG goals, enable tariff optimization to maximize operational savings, and enable resilient charging operations to minimize downtime events. Energy storage can also help expedite project deployment timelines by overcoming grid limitations and maximizing peak charging needs. The pairing of distributed energy resources with EV charging is crucial from a policy perspective and for the proliferation and transition toward a clean energy transportation system. So, when you’re evaluating your pilot EV fleet sites – that is the time to discuss adding distributed energy resources to your EV charger project. Doing so will produce clean energy to charge your fleet and alleviate grid demand while saving on energy bills.
This blog is a recap of the webinar and covers recent trends, discusses pain points felt by fleet operators, and how to get started with your renewable energy and EV charging project.
Watch the webinar on-demand here.
Macro Trends for EV Charging
Four macro trends are driving EV adoption and the transition to clean energy forward, including the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, new EV vehicle mandates in several states, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and corporate leadership. The following briefly overviews each, including an essential update on supply chain issues and how they can impact pilot programs. The ability for EV fleets to leverage solar + storage + EV Charging for a project may depend on the project’s use cases, market conditions, regional policy, and incentives.
Inflation Reduction Act
The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), signed in August 2022, provides $36 billion for clean transportation. About $9 billion of those funds are fueling the transition to electrify commercial vehicles. It’s also important to note that the IRA broke apart the solar tax credit and created a new storage tax credit. Previously, when doing a storage project, you had to pair solar and storage together to get a 30% Solar Production Tax Credit (PTC). Now, the new IRA law allows standalone storage projects a similar 30% Storage Investment Tax Credit. So, any projects that pair storage with EV charging will get the 30% tax credit off both the storage and the charging without requiring solar.
Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero Emission Vehicle Action Plan in 17 States
California is leading the way in medium- and heavy-duty vehicle electrification efforts with its Advanced Clean Truck Mandate, which includes a schedule for how many new zero-emissions trucks need to enter the state and when. Seventeen states have signed a multi-state action plan to electrify their medium- to heavy-duty vehicles. These mandates and multi-state action plan have triggered Fortune 500 companies to start clean energy pilot projects, and they are looking at these early-adopter states first to implement their pilot projects: California; Colorado; Connecticut; Hawaii; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Pennsylvania; Nevada; Rhode Island; New Jersey; Vermont; New York; Virginia; North Carolina; Washington; and Oregon.
Many of these states have local incentives and rebate programs that can stack along with the Federal tax credits. Stacking incentives is something Stem knows well and can guide you through that process.
Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law was signed in 2021 and included $10 billion in funding for two different EV programs. There is $5 billion for electric school buses, which will pay out over five years, and another $5 billion for National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) that will help electrify key transportation corridors around the US. These funds will cover 80% of your project costs.
Corporate Leadership and ESG Goals
Corporate sustainability goals – including environmental, social, and governance (ESG) – are the final trend pushing EV charging adoption. In Stem’s experience, we have seen the private industry take more aggressive steps toward electrification and decarbonization than government or state requirements. Figure 1 shows the US government’s timeline to reduce energy emissions and be consistent with global goals. Despite good progress on electrifying vehicles, Transportation still lags and requires focus.
Figure 1: US long-term strategy for decarbonization
Source: The White House
Supply Chain Issues are Real
As mentioned earlier, fleet operators are conducting EV charging pilots. Many of these operators are getting a wake-up call that ordering a fleet of EV trucks can take up to a year for delivery. As part of partnering with Stem and InCharge, we provide access to top-tier battery and EV charging hardware. If you’re in a state that has mandated a transition to clean energy vehicles, you must start your zero-emissions pilot programs now.
What Fleet Operators Care About
When you partner with Stem, you gain our global-leading clean energy solutions and services that cover everything from project planning, to deployment, to operations support for the lifetime of the assets. We have spoken with many fleet operators, and from those conversations, we discovered five recurring themes. These themes formed the basis of Stem and InCharge’s fully integrated fleet charging solution. Our modular solution addresses each theme below in more detail.
Resilience and independence from the grid are the top priorities for many fleet operators considering adding battery storage to their renewable energy and EV charging stations. They know that the grid will go down at some point, and the fleet needs to stay on the road when it does. Using diesel tanks as a backup is inconsistent with ESG goals, so we are developing clean energy microgrids where the battery is the primary driver to support EV charging. Stem’s AI-driven platform promotes EV charging uptime by providing dynamic “Reservable Backup” to ensure the fleet can charge during grid outages – using clean resources – not fossil-based backup.
Utility Bill Cost Control
By combining renewable energy with storage connected to EV chargers, customers can reduce grid dependency while saving on utility costs. Stem’s energy optimization platform, Athena® can forecast peaks and loads, decide when to use power from the grid, when to use the battery, and when to use other local, on-site resources.
Overcome Grid Power Limitations
Stem has heard from fleet operators that they require a higher power level than the grid can provide and therefore may be waiting for an upgrade from the utility. The wait time for utility upgrades could lead to project delays. One way to overcome these delays is by adding a battery to their project to enable high-power charging. Stem can work with you to determine the best-size battery for your site(s) to enable peak charging power above what the utility grid can provide.
Interoperable DERs and EV Charging
Fleet operators want everything to work together seamlessly for the lifetime of the project. We’ve heard horror stories of systems not being integrated and not talking to each other correctly. A lack of integration could impact your ability to access the project’s value streams. Stem’s Athena can let fleet operators know EV charging status while monitoring the renewable systems and optimizing the battery through an integrated platform that just works.
Support for ESG Goals
Corporations want data that supports a decarbonization target. Athena can track the carbon intensity of the energy used to charge the fleet and offset the amount of carbon production by using renewable resources and energy storage. Emissions reductions and this type of data help businesses reach their ESG goals.
If you’re a fleet operator or an owner of a fleet, give us a call, and we’ll work with you directly. We can assemble a team to provide everything you need to succeed in your project.
For financiers, developers, and solar providers, we focus on working with you and can provide services as a bundled solution.
With the right experience and know-how, having the right team together reduces the risks and complexities of building a system piecemeal and increases the speed at which your project can launch. The following is a brief overview of starting a project with Stem.
First, we offer consultative services to determine goals, what you are trying to accomplish, whether you have a transition plan, and whether you picked vehicles for your fleet. We can provide some recommendations and connections if you haven’t. We will want to look at the current site and understand the facility’s available power, which is one of the biggest roadblocks in installing EV charging and solar storage. Then, we’ll determine if we need to upgrade the panel, the transformer, or the substation (which, unfortunately, can take a couple of years). So, starting now is critical.
Determine Operational Flow
We also look at the operational flow of the vehicles, when they come in, when they leave, where they park, how long they are at an offloading dock, etc. This information enables us to put the chargers in an optimal location so that it doesn’t impact your operational flow and doesn’t have a significant cost increase to the project. We have often used dual-cord, DC fast chargers that can charge two vehicles overnight without any user interface – this is a proven, cost-effective solution.
With all the data collected, we can determine the total kilowatt hours the fleet will consume, including the D rates. Knowing loads of vehicles and operational efficiencies in cold weather can help determine the size of chargers. Metrics and real-world data help with sizing the right solar and battery storage for your fleet to provide the proper support for your project.
Future-proofing your site is essential so that you’re ready for the next generation of EVs. Installing additional conduits and upsizing transformers and panels will ensure you have the proper infrastructure in place for the future.
Grants and Incentives
We spend a lot of time with our partners and customers helping them identify grants and incentives, including federal and local incentives, understanding air quality management districts, available state funds, and how to stack those incentives for the most significant benefits.
We are working with customers who want a no-cost solution. For them, we can do charging-as-a-service, or we can work with a solar PPA where we integrate solar with battery storage, or we can have a combined hybrid of both. So, we’re here to fit your needs whether you want to pay cash or need a financing solution.
If you are interested in working with Stem for EV Charging solutions, fill out the form below, and a Stem representative will contact you soon.