AMPLY Power to electrify fleets with solar overhead charging

EV charging management provider AMPLY Power will announce a collaboration with Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions focused on charging fleets of electric buses by means of solar-powered overhead charging stations. AMPLY CEO Vic Shao will introduce this solution at the VERGE Electrify virtual conference today, but he spoke with Electrek beforehand about its potential.

AMPLY is a California-based fleet charging infrastructure provider offering a fully managed charging service to the public sector and commercial businesses. The company uses a Charging-as-a-Service (CaaS) approach, covering everything from system design and utility upgrades to financing, charging infrastructure, and maintenance.

Last month, AMPLY Power announced a partnership with Unique Electric Solutions (UES) to equip school buses and trucks with electrification, charging services, and vehicle-to-grid capabilities. AMPLY Power will oversee the collaboration that also includes Rhombus Energy Solutions with vehicles provided by Logan Bus Company.

With today’s upcoming announcement, AMPLY has added Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions to its Rolodex as it looks to expand its fleet electrification capabilities.

AMPLY Power, Duke Energy, and solar charging

In an official announcement from AMPLY CEO Vic Shao taking place later today, the companies will collaborate to expand fleet electrification offerings, utilizing the first commercially available combination solar canopy and overhead electric vehicle charging solution.

This solar canopy structure has a patent-pending overhead charger built into what is called a Pantograph In-Depot Equipment (PIDE) Canopy Mount, which operates autonomously as fleet buses pull up and park in a designated footprint.

In addition to leveraging renewable electricity from the Sun, fleets can see a reduced cost of charging through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) leasing and financing model. These solar and charging agreements extend 20 to 25 years and offer a fixed rate of power with no upfront capital. Shao explains:

Solar PPAs and managed charging can help fleet operators double-down on the cost savings that electric vehicles already deliver compared to diesel. Solar power generation is usually an afterthought, and we developed this unique solution after witnessing transit agencies struggling with the costs associated with developing an overhead charging system. Unlike diesel prices, electricity rate can fluctuate wildly throughout the day, sometimes by as much as 400%, making it impossible to ‘time the market’ and potentially wiping out EV savings. By combining overhead charging with a fixed rate of power, we are helping fleets bring predictability to their budgets and reduce their exposure to high rates.

AMPLY Power solar charging
Components used during AMPLY’s field-test demonstration: A BYD K9 transit bus, equipped with overhead charging, and a Schunk Transit Systems SLS 301 pantograph DCFC

AMPLY Power adds solar charging to its CaaS

In addition to providing fixed power rates and renewable energy to fleets, AMPLY plans to integrate the other aspects of its CaaS model, assuming end-to-end responsibility for all vehicle charging needs, from cloud-based system design to installing local site controllers.

Additionally, the company’s proprietary software, OMEGA, can help fleet customers optimize EV charging and other energy use at charging stations while helping drive utility costs down by maximizing existing electrical capacity. Shao explained to Electrek the potential he sees in combining these technologies to solve scalability and cost issues for transit fleets:

I think what you’re seeing here with the announcement between AMPLY and Duke Energy is all about scaled deployment, consistency, and reliability. With the solar portion, its a fixed rate of energy for the next twenty years, so we’ve fixed that part of the equation. With the automation enabled in our overhead charging scenario, the charging is going to happen reliably and consistently without humans plugging things in and out and thus, prone to errors. 

By combining AMPLY’s charging infrastructure experience with Duke’s solar charging experience, the companies are confident they can clear all of the hurdles currently facing affordable scaled deployment amongst commercial fleets, beginning with transit buses.

Shao also told Electrek the joint teams are estimating a savings of 50% for DCFC with the PIDE solution. By then adding AMPLY’s CaaS energy costs on top of that, bus fleets are in a position to save significantly.

The AMPLY team was not able to share what the company has in store with Duke Energy Sustainability Solutions yet, but we will be sure to share those details more soon.

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