Stakeholder Spotlight: Nuvve

May 5, 2022

Drive Clean Colorado (DCC) is thrilled to highlight our Stakeholder, Nuvve. Nuvve is leading the electrification of the planet, beginning with transportation, through its intelligent energy platform. We spoke with Jackie Piero, Nuvve’s Vice President of Policy, about the company and its mission. Continue reading to learn more about Nuvve’s use of V2G technology, interest in electrifying school buses, and more.

Organization: Nuuve

US Office: San Diego, CA

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*Note: The following answers are summarized from an interview with Jackie Piero from Nuvve

Could you start with a brief introduction about yourself and the work you do at Nuvve?

I’m Jackie Piero, I’m the Vice President of Policy for Nuvve. In graduate school, I started working in offshore wind and had a professor who was starting to examine the light vehicle fleet as a potential source of energy storage capacity with a forward-looking eye toward when transportation electrification starts to take off in the US — which we’re seeing now. What I’ve then focused on for the last decade is understanding how electric vehicles can function as highly distributed energy storage resources that are situated at the edge of the electric grid. My responsibilities here at Nuvve include assessing the state of policy and regulatory landscape, market structures, and energy ecosystems to determine what business models and services are possible. I also determine what barriers need to be addressed before charting policy and an advocacy path for each new jurisdiction where Nuvve will operate.

Is there a fleet that is of particular importance to Nuvve?

We’re particularly interested in electric school buses for a few reasons. The first is of course the health benefits of electrifying for the kids who are riding buses and potentially inhaling diesel fumes while doing so. We are seeing various studies indicating that inhaling fumes while riding an old diesel bus can have real effects on kids’ health and development. We also understand that there are air quality and community implications at the ground level for each market segment we can electrify. The carbon intensity of the electricity used to charge is also a consideration and we support Clean Fuel Standards to help reveal the value to society of each electrified mile these buses drive.  

There are also the general characteristics of school buses that make them potentially great resources for the grid. One is that they are very good use cases for demand response and bidirectional responses because they have such regular duty cycles and such a long dwell time once they’ve completed that duty. Also, because the California Energy Commission has incentivized school bus manufacturers to include bidirectional capability in their production models of electric school buses. The technical specification this has provided resulted in the school bus industry becoming the tip of the spear for V2G to roll out across the country. Additionally, focusing on the school bus industry is an important part of the mission to make electric vehicles more affordable, integrate them into the grid, and accelerate transportation electrification overall.

Tell me more about Nuvve as a company, its mission, and how it helps to advance clean transportation in Colorado and beyond.

At Nuvve, our most basic mission is to help with the integration of vehicles into the electric grid. For us, that means helping utilities account for the inherent flexibility of energy use in an electric vehicle, and for the capabilities of electric vehicles to serve as an aggregate resource to take stress off the system. In doing that, we decrease the societal costs of electric vehicles coming onto the grid and also the cost to the individual of owning an electric vehicle. If we can decrease the total cost of ownership in a way that can be reflected upfront, we hope to make it easier for schools, companies, and individuals to pull the trigger and buy an EV. We want this to be the case so that not, let’s say, the third car that a person owns can be electric, but the first car that a person has ever been able to buy can be an electric one.

We do that using our software platform that is designed to coordinate, control, and aggregate the charging (and potentially discharging) activity of electric vehicles, so it decreases the impact on the grid overall. This can also be organized into a coherent offering that is on a scale utilities find useful. For example, 10 kW of charge isn’t going to be a drop in the bucket for a utility — it’s not enough for them to pay attention to. However, if I have 10 kW and 1,000 of my friends in my town also have 10 kWs, that starts to add up to something that utilities can order and count on. In general, we’ve been trying to push the whole industry forward for quite a few years at this point.

How does vehicle-to-grid (V2G) work and what are the benefits of Nuvve’s bi-directional charging technology?

There is a big battery sitting in your bus or vehicle. Most vehicles are parked the majority of the time, in fact, personal vehicles are parked up to 90% of the day. When the vehicle is parked, that battery capacity is just sitting there, and the concept of V2G is that there’s no reason that battery can’t be utilized. There may be an instance in which a utility sees that there is a time of peak usage on the grid and they can ask (within parameters already set based on the duty cycle of the vehicle), for some portion of that battery to be discharged back to the grid — just like a solar panel. So, the EV is becoming a little generator. Again, one bus or vehicle doesn’t make much of a difference, but once you have many that provide a big enough service, that’s something that utilities may compensate for.

What Nuvve then does is make it so that you don’t have to have somebody out there pressing a button to say, “discharge the battery.” We can first understand the driving needs — our primary mission is to make sure that a bus driver has enough charge to complete their route in the morning. Once we know how much charge they’re going to need, we know when to have that bus charging and how much time there is to provide service. This is an opportunistic service, so there’s no situation in which you don’t charge the car or discharge the whole battery so it’s dead when a person needs it. If that were the case, the battery life could be degraded or people wouldn’t have their cars ready when they needed them, and we wouldn’t be in business very long.

To summarize, a vehicle battery is just sitting idle most of the time. Once we understand and have taken care of the customer’s driving needs, we can sign up for programs with utilities that aggregate vehicles together to provide a reliable, dispatchable service where a company like ours gets paid for it and shares those winnings with the customer.

How can Nuvve and Drive Clean Colorado best work together to get more EVs on the road and support cleaner air in local Colorado communities?

In general, there is so much happening right now in terms of the governor’s budget. There’s a lot of money in there for school buses and fleet electrification. I think it’s important to introduce the concept of V2G, and electric vehicles in general, as a facilitator, not just of decreased tailpipe emissions, but also decreased upstream emissions. What I’d love for Nuvve to do in its partnership with Drive Clean Colorado, is starting to make that link for consumers to understand that what an electric vehicle is doing when it’s parked is at least as important as what it’s doing when it’s driving. We can change how power plants in Colorado need to operate. We can facilitate the inclusion of more solar and more wind. We can figure out how to shift the need from dirty peaker plants towards cleaner resources using the flexibility of EVs. As we make that linkage, the value of an EV, not just to an EV owner, but to the broader system, has to be taken into account when we’re looking at state budgets and how utilities develop their transportation electrification make-ready programs. So that’s the perspective I think Nuvve can bring, and I would love for us to work with Drive Clean Colorado to integrate that into their broader engagement.

Is there anything you’d like to share that we haven’t gone over yet?

V2G is what I’m focusing on because that’s where there’s the most advocacy still to be done in terms of introducing these concepts. At the same time, EVs in general have so much to contribute to these projects that I’m talking about in terms of helping to clean the grid. We don’t want Nuvve to be seen as just the school bus company or just the V2G company, we want to figure out how best to integrate EVs into the grid overall and we’ll be happy to work with anyone who is pursuing that goal.

See more DCC Member Spotlights or learn more about joining DCC today!

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