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Duke Energy Plans Microgrid-Integrated Fleet Electrification Center in North Carolina

Feb. 23, 2023
The center will be powered by 100% carbon-free resources through the microgrid located at Mount Holly, or it can be connected to the Duke Energy grid, charging from the bulk electric system.

Duke Energy has unveiled plans to construct a new performance center that will serve as a model for developing, testing and deploying zero-emissions commercial electric vehicle (EV) fleets of all sizes.

According to the company, the facility will be sited at its Mount Holly Technology and Innovation Center in North Carolina and will feature microgrid integration.

By the end of this year, the fleet electrification center will offer a commercial-grade charging experience for fleet customers who are considering or implementing electrification strategies, ensuring clean power, reliability and optimization through the integration of solar, storage and microgrid controls software applications, Duke adds.

The center will be powered by 100-percent carbon-free resources through the microgrid located at Mount Holly, or it can be connected to the Duke Energy grid, charging from the bulk electric system. The company claims that the project will be the first electric fleet depot to offer a microgrid charging option.

Duke is also partnering with electric fuel solutions company Electrada as part of a larger fleet electrification collaboration. The partnership is aimed at providing a seamless and secure conversion for fleets transitioning to EVs.

Electrada’s model involves investing all required capital on behalf of fleet owners and providing reliable charging infrastructure through a performance contract, thus eliminating the complexity and risk that fleets face when transitioning to EVs. Electrada’s investment on the depot side will allow Duke to focus on improving the distribution system’s performance to support the predictable addition of electric load over time.

In addition, Portland, Oregon-based heavy-duty truck manufacturer Daimler Trucks North America (DTNA) will become a founding member of the fleet EV charging program at the Duke Energy Emerging Technology and Innovation Center, alongside Duke Energy and Electrada.

The center is situated directly adjacent to one of DTNA’s largest East Coast manufacturing sites, creating an ideal opportunity for the company to use the chargers on-site and showcase charging technologies to customers visiting the plant in the future.

The facility will serve as both a fleet charging center and an innovation hub, providing Duke with a platform to study the performance, management and energy integration of EV chargers. According to the company, this effort will enable the development of a clear, integrated and cost-effective model for fleet electrification across all types of vehicles, from class 1 pickups to class 8 over-the-road haulers.

By testing various charging scenarios, the site is also expected to facilitate energy load shaping to ensure optimal grid or microgrid distribution.

Furthermore, the Duke Energy fleet depot will showcase the interoperability and efficient operation of utilities, emerging fleet charging infrastructure solutions, and vehicles. The demonstration will also include the integration of distributed power resources, such as solar and stationary battery storage.

“Electric fleet commitments are increasing as companies with ambitious sustainability goals work to decarbonize business operations,” said Harry Sideris, executive vice president of Customer Experience, Solutions and Services for Duke Energy. “We are helping speed commercial fleet electrification across the Duke Energy footprint through innovations like this, while we electrify our own fleet.”

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