Bus Exportable Power Systems Webinar - Q&A
The Q&A summary was from the question and answer session during a May 25 webinar for potential applicants interested in the BEPS Notice of Funding Opportunity.
Q: Is this program only for transit fleet or can OEMs participate?
A: The goal of this program is to develop national transit standards for Bus Exportable Power Systems, so that hybrid electric, fuel cell, or battery electric bus in the transit fleet can be used as ‘mobile generators’ to provide power to community buildings and hospitals in emergency. The program does not restrict from developing the BEPS system and standards using non-transit vehicles, but the final goal is to have national standards for transit so BEPS system built by any manufacturers are interoperable and can be used to transfer battery power from hybrid electric, fuel cell or battery electric buses to buildings in the communities when there is a loss of power. If the developed standards are applicable to other vehicles or used for similar applications elsewhere, that is an additional benefit.
Q: Is there a good reference site for prior FTA research grants in the BEPS power generating space, and a list of agencies that have been involved?
A: FTA sponsored research in the BEPS area in 2019 and published the research report FTA Report 0146 – BEPS System Use Strategy: Investigating the Use of Transit Buses as Emergency Generators:
Please reference the link above for the list of organizations involved on the research.
Q: Can you please identify and clarify what supporting documents are required for submission? Some of the supporting docs listed seem to be optional. Just need a little clarification.
A: All three documents -- the SF-424, Supplemental Form and Supporting Documents -- are required, and important for a successful application. The Supporting Documents include any additional attachments - information, workflow, detailed objectives, charts, diagram, letters of support, etc. that provide more details about your proposal and give credence to responses in the Supplemental Form. This form has a maximum character limit on each response box.
Q: Is there a limit to the size of the application?
A.: There is no limit to the application size in terms of information; however, SF- 424 is space-limited, the Supplemental Form is character-limited, and there is a limit of 15 Supporting Documents (attachments) per application. There is no limit on how many pages an attachment may include.
Q: Is this grant applicable for hybrid transmission works?
A: No, this opportunity is not applicable to the hybrid transmission area. The work is specifically focused on battery power transfer technology and standards required for interoperable use of the BEPS systems.
Q: Is there a preference for what type of bus should be demonstrated – Diesel Hybrid, Battery Electric Bus, Fuel Cell Bus, or hardware in the loop (lab setting)?
A: FTA has specified hybrid electric, battery electric, and fuel cell buses, and is open to proposals that justify using any hybrid electric or electric vehicles. The goal is to have a system and standards that make it possible to transfer power from transit bus to community building in time of need in a very efficient way. The solutions proposed could use any modelling, simulation, and soft demonstration in the lab setting, but FTA will be looking to fund project proposals that include plans for a full-scale demonstration.
Q: Will this system be used on either passenger or military vehicles?
A: These applications are outside of the key focus area and beyond scope. The program focus is to develop BEPS system and standards for hybrid or electric buses. If the developed product and standards can be used on passenger or military vehicles, that is an added benefit.
Q: Our system has multiple users in multiple sectors, including transit. Are we still eligible to apply?
A: The NOFO has expanded eligibility and any entities and organizations are allowed to apply if they follow the application process as described on grants.gov. The program goal is to develop standards for power transfer for transit, but we know that there are diverse applicants and expertise.
Q: Is this for the use of pure electric buses or can it be also for hybrid buses?
A: Per the NOFO, the opportunity includes all hybrid electric, fuel cell, and electric buses. FTA will not restrict applicants’ ability to propose new and innovative ideas to reach the goal of developing BEPS standards so a transit vehicle can provide battery power to an electrical load, such as community buildings in emergency.
Q: Besides the hospitals and community buildings, can this project also target residential communities during a power outage?
A: The goal of the project is to develop standards so that transit buses with BEPS can transfer battery power to a hospital or a community building. It is up to the applicants to propose a project that will achieve the BEPS goal and optionally describe other project applications. To the extent the project leads to BEPS standards that also have application to residential communities, it is an additional benefit.
Q: One of the stated BEPS objectives is for demonstration of a system; This specific grant's Goal is for standards development. Would a hardware demonstration be invited/encouraged or is that a future grant objective?
A: Yes, BEPS demonstration is one of the objectives of the BEPS program and is strongly encouraged.
Q: Overview mentions "generating" in emergency which a battery electric vehicle (BEV) cannot do; should we assume BEV not preferred over the ability to create power from diesel or hydrogen fuel? Overview mentions "generating power immediately after natural disaster". "Generating" is different from "transferring." BEVs can only "transfer" stored energy and will "run out" quickly. Hybrids/fuel cells could be refueled on site for continued generation. We read that as the preference following a natural disaster.
A: ‘Generating’ and ‘transferring’ were used interchangeably in the NOFO as a common term, but the intent is to transfer battery power from a transit vehicle, whether it is stored energy in the case of plug-in hybrid electric bus or battery electric bus, or generated energy in the case of hybrid electric fuel cell or hybrid electric diesel buses. As for project proposal/application, there is no preference about the type of vehicles.
Q: Can electric school bus rather than public city bus be considered as the target vehicle?
A: The program is not considering school bus as the target vehicle.
Q: Will this grant cover purchase of electric buses and infrastructure for charging as well as design to cover the transfer mechanism to create and transfer the charging to generation of power?
A: The BEPS NOFO states the main goal is developing standards for power transfer and lists eligible activities that are necessary to be successful. It does not restrict the type of proposed activities if they are required; however, there is a limit of $1M funding if only one project is selected, and less will be available if multiple projects are selected. Your application should clearly show how the proposed project can accomplish objectives and follow a work plan within the project budget to be successful.
Q: When will the webinar information be available publicly?
A: FTA expects to post webinar slides and Q&A information by the end of the week of May 30, 2022.