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Making the Financial Case for Battery Electric Buses

July 16, 2020 @ 10:30 am 11:30 am UTC

It seems that transit buses may be the first heavy-duty vehicle segment to significantly electrify. But are they cost-effective compared to traditional diesel buses?

A new report from the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) aims to help transit fleet managers determine if investing in battery electric buses (BEBs) would have an acceptable net present value (NPV) and payback period. It first sets a baseline scenario, representing common project characteristics. The baseline involved four BEBs and four depot chargers, received a grant of $1,500,000 (or $375,000 per bus with charger), and saw a value of $785,000 over the 12-year bus life. To determine whether to invest, the analysis examined 33 key inputs and recorded the NPV as those parameters shifted. Knowing how these parameters effect the overall value of the investment can help fleets determine if a BEB investment is likely to be cost-effective for them.

Speaker: Caley Johnson

Caley Johnson is a senior transportation market analyst for the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL). In this role, he assesses the economics of advanced fuel and transportation technologies in various applications, locations, and policy environments. This work has included business cases for convenience stores selling E85, municipal fleets using CNG, EV service companies implementing battery-swap, bus rapid transit systems using EVs, and all players involved in producing, distributing, and using high-octane E30 in optimized vehicles. Caley also monitors and quantifies the adoption of advanced transportation technologies into local economies through the Clean Cities program.

Prior to working for NREL, Caley was a project manager in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Climate Protection Partnerships Division and a co-founder of the solar power company Soltage. He holds a bachelor of arts degree in biology from the University of Colorado and a master of environmental management degree from Yale University.