Report Offers Roadmap for Electric School Bus Transition
By Jessica Corbett
While some students are still learning remotely or on hybrid schedules due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the climate emergency hasn't suddenly disappeared because of the devastating public health crisis—meaning neither has the need to radically and rapidly transform society.
The sweeping transformation that study after study signals is necessary for the future of the planet and all of its inhabitants includes electrifying the transportation sector. A report out Tuesday details opportunities to aid that effort by shifting to zero-emissions electric school buses.
The new report from the Environment America Research & Policy Center and U.S. PIRG Education Fund notes that "the vast majority of school buses in the United States run on diesel, a fossil fuel that has been shown to cause numerous health problems, including asthma, bronchitis, and cancer."
Along with the impacts on human health, diesel exhaust is also a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. While there are multiple benefits to shifting to more health- and climate-friendly buses, there are also barriers. As the report explains:
The technology is here, and electric school buses are ready to roll, but the question remains: how do schools pay for them? While electric buses can save schools money over the lifespan of the bus, the initial price tag of a new electric bus can turn many schools off to the idea of electrification. In many cases, assistance from federal grant programs and loans are needed in order to finance such a purchase. In addition to these programs, utility investment, financing strategies, and vehicle-to-grid technology provide promising opportunities that can help schools ease the transition and accelerate toward a zero-emission electric future.
Ethan Evans, U.S. PIRG Education Fund Transportation associate, emphasized in a statement Tuesday that "while electric buses can save and even earn schools money over the lifespan of the bus, the initial price tag often presents a hurdle for cash-strapped districts. Utility investment would help ease the transition and accelerate us toward a zero-emission electric future."
The report points out that not only is a large-scale shift to electric buses better for public health and the planet, it could also benefit school districts as well as utility companies that could assist with transition costs. "Electric buses can expand and stabilize the grid, provide surplus energy storage, and increase energy demand," the report says. "By providing discounted rates on electric bus charging and building charging infrastructure, utilities can help speed the adoption of electric buses."
"Utilities can also support electric buses by investing in infrastructure for bus charging in depots and on routes, helping to finance the upfront purchasing costs of electric buses, and introducing smart charging systems to maximize integration of renewable energy," the report adds, noting examples where such efforts are already underway in Oregon and Virginia.
The report highlights vehicle-to-grid technology that enables buses to send stored energy back to the grid and Pay-As-You-Save (or PAYS) agreements in which a utility company covers the initial cost of shifting to new technology that the customer repays over the buses' lifespans as "particularly promising options."
"By pairing vehicle-to-grid technology and PAYS, each electric bus could save school districts up to $130,000 per electric bus," according to the report, which includes lists of recommendations for school districts, lawmakers, and utility companies to boost the use of electric buses on a national scale.
Upgrading to 100% electric school bus fleets by 2030 is achievable and affordable, our new report from finds. Pay-a… https://t.co/YxDwwDlu55— U.S. PIRG (@U.S. PIRG)1612274141.0
As Morgan Folger, Environment America Research and Policy Center Destination: Zero Carbon campaign director, put it: "Only by working together can we tackle the existential threat of climate change and accelerate the process towards a zero-emission future."
Schools are urged to "commit to transitioning to 100% all-electric buses by 2030, with a plan to phase out the purchase of new diesel buses immediately." District leaders should "use any and all financing methods available" to deliver on their pledges—including by engaging with local utility companies.
Utility companies are called on to commit to renewable energy, reduce emissions, increase grid capacity, and assist in transition efforts, including with vehicle-to-grid technology and PAYS pilot programs. Lawmakers, the report says, must "work with utilities and regulators to develop effective electric bus investment programs that protect ratepayers and consumers."
The report further calls on elected officials to develop grant programs for the transition to electric buses, tighten fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions standards, and subsidize research and development in related technology, including vehicle-to-grid.
As the groups published their joint report on Tuesday, the Senate confirmed Pete Buttigieg, President Joe Biden's pick to run the Department of Transportation. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana—who faced off against Biden in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race but ultimately dropped out and endorsed him—has vowed to make climate a key priority in his new role.
"Ultimately, we cannot afford not to act on climate," Buttigieg told senators at a confirmation hearing when asked about his support for the Green New Deal. "The question becomes: How can we do that in a way that creates economic benefit in the near term, as well as preventing catastrophe in the long term?"
Part of the solution, the report suggests, is greening the way students get to school.
"Our kids deserve a world without diesel emissions," said Folger. Evans concurred, declaring that "getting to school shouldn't include a daily dose of toxic pollution."
"With school districts, lawmakers, and utilities all working together," Evans added, "we can make the switch to all-electric school buses and give our kids a healthier ride to school."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
- Buses Are the Electric Vehicle Everyone Should Be Talking About ... ›
- Nation's First Electric Bus Picks Up California Students - EcoWatch ›
- San Francisco Seeks 100% Electric Bus Fleet by 2035 - EcoWatch ›
- Ask a Scientist: Electric Vehicles are the Cleanest Option Today - EcoWatch ›
- New Clues Help Monarch Butterfly Conservation Efforts - EcoWatch ›
- Monarch Butterflies Will Be Protected Under Historic Deal - EcoWatch ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
California faces another "critically dry year" according to state officials, and a destructive wildfire season looms on its horizon. But in a state that welcomes innovation, water efficacy approaches and drought management could replenish California, increasingly threatened by the climate's new extremes.
- Remarkable Drop in Colorado River Water Use Sign of Climate ... ›
- California Faces a Future of Extreme Weather - EcoWatch ›
Wisdom the mōlī, or Laysan albatross, is the oldest wild bird known to science at the age of at least 70. She is also, as of February 1, a new mother.
<div id="dadb2" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="aa2ad8cb566c9b4b6d2df2693669f6f9"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1357796504740761602" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">🚨Cute baby alert! Wisdom's chick has hatched!!! 🐣😍 Wisdom, a mōlī (Laysan albatross) and world’s oldest known, ban… https://t.co/Nco050ztBA</div> — USFWS Pacific Region (@USFWS Pacific Region)<a href="https://twitter.com/USFWSPacific/statuses/1357796504740761602">1612558888.0</a></blockquote></div>
By Hui Hu
Winter is supposed to be the best season for wind power – the winds are stronger, and since air density increases as the temperature drops, more force is pushing on the blades. But winter also comes with a problem: freezing weather.
Comparing rime ice and glaze ice shows how each changes the texture of the blade. Gao, Liu and Hu, 2021, CC BY-ND
Ice buildup changes air flow around the turbine blade, which can slow it down. The top photos show ice forming after 10 minutes at different temperatures in the Wind Research Tunnel. The lower measurements show airflow separation as ice accumulates. Icing Research Tunnel of Iowa State University, CC BY-ND
While traditional investment in the ocean technology sector has been tentative, growth in Israeli maritime innovations has been exponential in the last few years, and environmental concern has come to the forefront.
theDOCK aims to innovate the Israeli maritime sector. Pexels<p>The UN hopes that new investments in ocean science and technology will help turn the tide for the oceans. As such, this year kicked off the <a href="https://www.oceandecade.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021-2030)</a> to galvanize massive support for the blue economy.</p><p>According to the World Bank, the blue economy is the "sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem," <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0160412019338255#b0245" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Science Direct</a> reported. It represents this new sector for investments and innovations that work in tandem with the oceans rather than in exploitation of them.</p><p>As recently as Aug. 2020, <a href="https://www.reutersevents.com/sustainability/esg-investors-slow-make-waves-25tn-ocean-economy" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Reuters</a> noted that ESG Investors, those looking to invest in opportunities that have a positive impact in environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, have been interested in "blue finance" but slow to invest.</p><p>"It is a hugely under-invested economic opportunity that is crucial to the way we have to address living on one planet," Simon Dent, director of blue investments at Mirova Natural Capital, told Reuters.</p><p>Even with slow investment, the blue economy is still expected to expand at twice the rate of the mainstream economy by 2030, Reuters reported. It already contributes $2.5tn a year in economic output, the report noted.</p><p>Current, upward <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/-innovation-blue-economy-2646147405.html" target="_self">shifts in blue economy investments are being driven by innovation</a>, a trend the UN hopes will continue globally for the benefit of all oceans and people.</p><p>In Israel, this push has successfully translated into investment in and innovation of global ports, shipping, logistics and offshore sectors. The "Startup Nation," as Israel is often called, has seen its maritime tech ecosystem grow "significantly" in recent years and expects that growth to "accelerate dramatically," <a href="https://itrade.gov.il/belgium-english/how-israel-is-becoming-a-port-of-call-for-maritime-innovation/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">iTrade</a> reported.</p><p>Driving this wave of momentum has been rising Israeli venture capital hub <a href="https://www.thedockinnovation.com/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">theDOCK</a>. Founded by Israeli Navy veterans in 2017, theDOCK works with early-stage companies in the maritime space to bring their solutions to market. The hub's pioneering efforts ignited Israel's maritime technology sector, and now, with their new fund, theDOCK is motivating these high-tech solutions to also address ESG criteria.</p><p>"While ESG has always been on theDOCK's agenda, this theme has become even more of a priority," Nir Gartzman, theDOCK's managing partner, told EcoWatch. "80 percent of the startups in our portfolio (for theDOCK's Navigator II fund) will have a primary or secondary contribution to environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria."</p><p>In a company presentation, theDOCK called contribution to the ESG agenda a "hot discussion topic" for traditional players in the space and their boards, many of whom are looking to adopt new technologies with a positive impact on the planet. The focus is on reducing carbon emissions and protecting the environment, the presentation outlines. As such, theDOCK also explicitly screens candidate investments by ESG criteria as well.</p><p>Within the maritime space, environmental innovations could include measures like increased fuel and energy efficiency, better monitoring of potential pollution sources, improved waste and air emissions management and processing of marine debris/trash into reusable materials, theDOCK's presentation noted.</p>
theDOCK team includes (left to right) Michal Hendel-Sufa, Head of Alliances, Noa Schuman, CMO, Nir Gartzman, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, and Hannan Carmeli, Co-Founder & Managing Partner. Dudu Koren<p>theDOCK's own portfolio includes companies like Orca AI, which uses an intelligent collision avoidance system to reduce the probability of oil or fuel spills, AiDock, which eliminates the use of paper by automating the customs clearance process, and DockTech, which uses depth "crowdsourcing" data to map riverbeds in real-time and optimize cargo loading, thereby reducing trips and fuel usage while also avoiding groundings.</p><p>"Oceans are a big opportunity primarily because they are just that – big!" theDOCK's Chief Marketing Officer Noa Schuman summarized. "As such, the magnitude of their criticality to the global ecosystem, the magnitude of pollution risk and the steps needed to overcome those challenges – are all huge."</p><p>There is hope that this wave of interest and investment in environmentally-positive maritime technologies will accelerate the blue economy and ESG investing even further, in Israel and beyond.</p>
- 14 Countries Commit to Ocean Sustainability Initiative - EcoWatch ›
- These 11 Innovations Are Protecting Ocean Life - EcoWatch ›
- How Innovation Is Driving the Blue Economy - EcoWatch ›