Construction begins on America's largest renewable energy-powered transit depot

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ALP Bus Depot Rendering
This 5.65 megawatt microgrid project will include solar arrays, electric bus chargers, battery energy storage, and a County-owned hydrogen electrolyzer, meaning the depot can operate indefinitely in "island mode."

Energy as a Service (EaaS) microgrid solutions provider AlphaStruxure and Montgomery County, Maryland have jointly announced that construction has begun on what will be America's largest renewable energy-powered transit depot. Upon completion in 2025, the 5.65 megawatt microgrid will include electric bus charging and on-site green hydrogen production, both powered by solar and battery energy storage. 

The microgrid will include:

  • 5.65 MWDC of rooftop and canopy solar generation
  • 2 MW/6.88 MWh battery energy storage
  • Up to 2.25 MW of charging capacity
  • 1 MW hydrogen electrolyzer
  • Software tools and IoT-connected hardware  

"It's a joyous moment to be breaking ground on a project that is the new standard for public transit in the United States," said Juan Macias, CEO of the Boston, MA-based AlphaStruxure. "The County has proven itself as a national leader in zero-emissions transit, in part by prioritizing simultaneous procurement of both the buses and the sustainable infrastructure needed to power them. Both are fundamental to a successful fleet transition. Our Energy as a Service approach enables the County to achieve sustainable and resilient transit — without upfront capital, in a way that de-risks the financial, construction, and operations phases of the project." 

Montgomery County already operates Washington D.C.'s second-largest bus fleet and its David F. Bone Equipment and Maintenance Transit Operations Center is a major depot within Ride on Montgomery's network and the fifth-largest County-owned energy consumer. 

ALP Bus Depot Building Rendering"This project is the largest renewable energy-powered transit depot and transit depot microgrid in the nation; it is also the first facility on the East Coast to produce green hydrogen on-site," said County Executive Marc Elrich.AlphaStruxure

By 2035, this depot is expected to accommodate 200 zero-emissions buses, most of which will have hydrogen fuel cell electric powertrains. Montgomery County opted to proceed with fuel cells because of their ability to support longer bus routes. Upon completion, the system will send renewable energy back to the grid while still having the ability to power buses. 

In 2022, AlphaStruxure led the successful construction of the Brookville Smart Energy Bus Depot, the County’s first microgrid-powered bus depot. The ultimate goal is for the two depots to eventually power around 335 zero-emissions buses.

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Montgomery County is aiming for a 100% reduction in carbon emissions by 2035. The microgrid enables the County to cut back on its Scope 1 and 2 emissions by 4,000 metric tons of CO2 annually, which is the equivalent of about 780 homes’ yearly electricity usage. Microgrid equity will also advance.

The current depot will remain fully operational during construction with no impact expected on transit services. 

The completed microgrid will not only power the hydrogen fuel cell electric buses (FCEBs) but also the facility's five buildings. Additionally, it'll be interconnected to the Pepco, the local utility, grid. It's engineered to operate in "island mode" indefinitely, thus guaranteeing uninterrupted service for County residents during grid or power outages and emergency situations. The completed microgrid will also be capable of sending up to two megawatts of renewable energy back to Pepco's utility grid via a net metering program. 

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"By breaking ground on America's largest electric bus depot, Montgomery County continues to lead the country with investments in creating a clean energy future for our children and grandchildren," U.S. Representative Jamie Raskin said. "I'm confident this project will serve as an inspiration for other local governments exploring sustainable energy transitions, and I'm committed to continue strongly advocating for commonsense pro-climate legislation in Congress to benefit Maryland and the nation." 

Jay Traugott has covered the automotive and transportation sector for over a decade and now serves as Senior Editor for Clean Trucking. He holds a drifting license and has driven on some of the world's best race tracks, including the Nurburgring and Spa. He lives near Boulder, Colorado, and spends his free time snowboarding, climbing, and hiking. He can be reached at [email protected].

Hydrogen Fuel Cell & BEV Survey
The following survey was sent as a link in an email cover message in February 2023 to the newsletter lists for Overdrive and CCJ. After approximately two weeks, a total of 176 owner-operators under their own authority, 113 owner-operators leased or assigned to a carrier and 82 fleet executives and 36 fleet employees from fleets with 10 or more power units had completed and submitted the questionnaire for a total of 407 qualified responses. Cross-tabulations based on respondent type are provided for each question when applicable.
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