Austin’s CapMetro to install first-of-its-kind solar charging infrastructure for buses  

Austin CapMetro bus solar

HOLT Renewables will design and construct a first-of-its-kind solar-powered charging infrastructure solution for CapMetro, the regional public transportation provider in Austin, Texas, in collaboration with bp pulse.

In 2021, the CapMetro board approved the purchase of approximately 200 zero-emissions buses, the largest procurement of battery electric transit buses in the country. To support CapMetro’s electric bus fleet, the project requires innovative use of solar canopies that will produce renewable energy and double as a mounting structure to enable hands-free overhead charging. The locally funded project will cost $34 million. 

“This project will be a gamechanger for our agency. We’ll be able to get more of our zero-emissions buses out on the road to provide a quieter and more comfortable ride for our customers,” said Dottie Watkins, president and CEO of CapMetro. “We look forward to this partnership with HOLT Renewables as we continue to expand our sustainability efforts across the Central Texas region.”

HOLT Renewables will design and construct a photovoltaic (PV) canopy system, which converts sunlight to usable electricity, spanning 12 acres with over 7,000 panels, and will power more than 200 buses. The project will also employ the country’s largest deployment of pantograph depot chargers, which are overhead chargers that connect to the vehicle’s battery.  

“We welcome the opportunity to work alongside CapMetro in pioneering the future of sustainable mobility,” said Peter J. Holt, CEO and general manager of HOLT. “This project will kickstart the transformation of public transportation in Central Texas and help our state move toward a more efficient solution for charging electric vehicles. We have seen the industry shifting toward green solutions, and this visionary initiative from CapMetro will better protect people and the planet while setting the standard for a cleaner transportation system.” 

To support this project, bp pulse, the electric vehicle charging arm of global energy company bp, will oversee installation of their patent-pending mounting system, PIDE, that integrates pantograph charging with solar canopies. The PIDE canopy mount is specifically designed to be attached to a tilted solar canopy, enabling EV charging deployments with uneven surfaces, which is a common barrier preventing wide-scale adoption of integrated solar and EV charging.  

“We are thrilled to be a part of this project with CapMetro and HOLT Renewables to design and deploy a charging solution that will support the energy needs of the battery electric fleet while maximizing onsite renewable energy generation with solar canopies,” said Vic Shao, president of bp pulse fleet. “This project is yet another example of the innovative solutions bp pulse is bringing to the market to accelerate electrification in transportation.” 

CapMetro made a pledge to transition its bus fleet to zero emissions by 2035. The new infrastructure will be located at North Operations bus yard (North Ops) located at 9315 McNeil Rd. Construction is scheduled to begin in October 2023.

“As an agency, we are very excited to be building out this infrastructure for our zero-emissions buses,” said David Carr, director of zero-emissions vehicles for CapMetro. “This revolutionary project represents one of the largest deployments of pantograph bus chargers in North America, and it will give our agency the ability to continue expanding our zero-emissions bus fleet for a healthier Austin.” 

HOLT Renewables specializes in delivering innovative solutions for commercial customers nationwide. With a focus on providing tailored, integrated solutions that meet the specific energy and sustainability needs of its clients, the company has earned a reputation as a reliable and trusted partner for institutions and industrial industries alike.

“The unique request from CapMetro for solar design and the integration of overhead charging was a challenging conceptual endeavor that our engineering and construction teams are eager to bring to life,” said Aaron Arriaga, commercial project developer at HOLT Renewables. “Through innovative design and the use of onsite solar canopies, we will deliver a solution that will not only provide the energy needed to power an electric fleet but will also reduce the carbon footprint and contribute to a cleaner, greener future for Austin.”

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