'Every problem is an opportunity in disguise.’ So said John Adams, 2nd President of the United States over 200 years ago, and his words still ring very true today. Municipal governments across the USA are rising to meet the exceptional challenges of our times – challenges to our health, to our economy, and to our climate – and for those with the wisdom to seize the moment, there’s an opportunity not just for change, but to build sustainable resilience into our communities for the future.
My focus and that of my team is on decarbonization through the conversion of fleets to electric. There is no doubt, electrifying an entire fleet is a complex challenge involving considerations of funding, infrastructure, batteries and the immaturity of that technology, contract terms and lengths, mechanics, software, monitoring driver behavior to maximize battery life, optimizing charging cycles, and more besides. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution and what’s needed will vary from place to place.
On the question of funding, I believe we need more out of the box thinking. I was recently discussing the American Rescue Plan Act with my colleague Amanda Wood. In the act, passed earlier this Spring, we see an incredible opportunity for local municipalities to claim the available funding, not just to invest in clean energy, but to future-proof themselves and the people they represent. The American Rescue Plan is not alone, other grants already exist and more are expected as the infrastructure bill passes through congress.
For example, a state municipality running a school bus service in hurricane alley might want to consider how EVs will work if powerlines go down. An electric bus has the potential to act as an off-grid battery, keeping a local area going during the crucial first few days after an emergency event. What’s more, Hitachi already has technology where an electric vehicle can act as a battery to give power back to a building, developed in partnership with Mitsubishi Motors and energy firm ENGIE. It works bi-directionally, connecting the battery inside the electric car via a V2X Charger to the building’s energy supply, not only would that local transport department be meeting their carbon reduction targets, but they would also be adding capacity to their ability to respond to a crisis. Many officials will be looking into how they can use some of the funding available to them through the Act to electrify all their vehicles. Rather than using federal money just for electric vehicles it could also be shown that electrification will add resilience to other assets / systems that are traditionally not linked to fleets. For example installing invertors at community centers to help power shelters during natural disasters.
With funding secured, Hitachi is the ideal partner for municipalities wanting to understand and deliver this longer-term vision. We have made ourselves a ‘one-stop shop’ for those addressing their energy transition needs. We offer a customer-centric solution, bringing our experience and knowledge to provide a start-to-finish strategy specific to the customer.
Fleet transition is an area where Hitachi has both significant experience and strong partnerships. enables us to offer an integrated end-to-end solution which includes charging infrastructure and digital tools, as well as the ownership and operation of the vehicles themselves. Businesses, cities, and states are already taking advantage of our learnings and avoiding making costly mistakes, benefitting from a powerful combination of our expertise and partnerships.
We are in a moment of inflection where out of the box thinking about the funding and delivery of EV infrastructure can produce a huge benefit to society. In taking a broader perspective, we’re finding that together, as John Adams so wisely noted, we have the ability to gain so much more from the possibilities new challenges present.
If you would like to learn more about Hitachi GSIB and our EVaaS offering, please contact me or visit our website: https://social-innovation.hitachi.com/