In a West Coast partnership, Lehigh is contributing research and community outreach to a California state-funded project to install a microgrid for charging zero-emission vehicles in Silicon Valley.
The project, on a list to be funded with a $4.68 million grant by the California Energy Commission, will provide a state-of-the-art charging infrastructure for the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) to fuel the agency’s fleet of battery-electric transit buses. The project works toward the agency’s goal of achieving 100% zero-emission fleets by 2036 (the California Air Resources Board requires public transit agencies to transition to 100% zero-emission fleets by 2040).
Lehigh students and faculty will engage local and disadvantaged communities on the benefits of transit electrification and infrastructure, and evaluate and identify approaches to make the charging infrastructure resilient in the face of outages, fire hazards and other disruptions, with support from Lehigh’s Institute for Cyber Physical Infrastructure and Energy (I-CPIE) and Western Regional Office, which arranged the partnership.
“VTA’s work to reduce stress on the state’s electric grid while converting to a zero-emission bus fleet will benefit transit agencies across the state,” said Gary Miskell, VTA’s chief innovation officer, who guided the effort, which includes energy and electric vehicle partners Scale Microgrid Solutions, Schneider Electric and Proterra.
The project grows from work Lehigh has been doing in the “smart grid” area for nearly a decade.
“This connection that was made (and so well maintained) by the Western Regional Office was key in translating our own more theoretical work to something concrete in the real world,” said Shalinee Kishore, Iacocca chair and professor of electrical and computer engineering and associate director of the Institute for Cyber Physical Infrastructure and Energy.