project spotlight | 25 September 2023

The Department of the Air Force, DIU Partner on Electric Vehicle Support Equipment Project

DIU competed solutions pitched by industry to select Techflow and Leidos as vendors to deploy prototypical EV charging facilities.

The Department of the Air Force (DAF) joined forces with the Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) to deploy Electric Vehicle Support Equipment (EVSE) project at six U.S. Air Force installations. The EVSE project operationalizes the DAF’s Climate Action Plan as well as Executive Orders 14008 and 14057, all of which are aimed at mitigating the risk to mission due to the speed and impact of climate change. The DAF-DIU EVSE project represents a novel approach for the government to engage with industry partners and meet the growing demands of government-owned vehicles (GOVs) and privately-owned vehicles (POVs).     

DIU is spearheading a project to connect privately owned vehicles (POVs) and government-owned vehicles (GOVs) through a unified charging infrastructure. This will ensure that both types of vehicles can charge at the same base, using the same chargers. Additionally, the project aims to establish long-term maintenance solutions that will benefit EVSE, EVs, and the grid in a mutually beneficial manner.

DAF-DIU partnership aims to create a business model that can quickly expand throughout the DAF to support the Department’s shift towards a decarbonized fleet. Moreover, it intends to establish a process to maintain units for the long-term. DIU competitively sourced solutions from across industry through its flexible Commercial Solutions Opening (CSO) process, resulting in the selection of TechFlow and Leidos. The chosen vendors will deploy prototypical EV charging facilities that are capable of driving sustainability, resilience, and efficiency goals. DIU’s vendors will kick off the effort by analyzing differentials across owner/operator, lend/lease, and other potential business models.

“These projects are underway and in various stages of implementation to meet the Air Force’s  diverse needs,” said Justin Martin, DIU Energy Program Manager (contractor). “This project is about more than delivering infrastructure — we’re prototyping a process that wraps around a business case for electrotechnology.”

The selected vendor technology platforms offer different ways for decarbonized and resilient transportation solutions to deliver capacity for commercial electric energy solutions to safely, reliably and cost effectively meet government requirements. For example, user data gained from operating different EVs, charging facilities and differing enabling technologies enable the DAF and DIU to acquire valuable information comparing electric and liquid fuel fleet logistics.

“We’re excited to deliver robust EV CaaS style solution presented to DIU by one of the vendors during the CSO process (Leidos). This type of infrastructure shares financial risk between the DAF and industry partners while promoting expanded access to charging for GOVs and POVs alike,” said Martin.

Based on the solution presented, one of the partnership’s key milestones is identifying how an industry partner can leverage independent financing to support rapid growth of charging infrastructure across installations and recovery of investments with cost-effective charging rates and contractual terms.     

Air Force Lt. Col. Brandon (Jake) Bowen, part of the DAF’s fleet electrification pilot program, explained that expanding access to charging stations is mission critical. “The charging infrastructure effort with DIU implements charging solutions that move from traditional, centralized refueling to distributed and accessible recharging.” 

EVSE is a steppingstone in fleet modernization and provides downstream opportunities to explore how additional technologies like vehicle to x, autonomous vehicles, and flying cars may be woven into the DAF’s resilience ecosystem. According to Lt Col Bowen, “The opportunity to leverage a CaaS approach can help the DAF transition to a fully electrified fleet.” He said, “EVSE will economically benefit all customers by reducing capital and sustainment costs while leveraging industry expertise to optimize system design and charging behavior with the local utility grid.