In this week's North American Ag Spotlight Chrissy Wozniak speaks with co-founder and president of Monarch Tractor, Mark Schwager. Mark shares more about the world’s first 100% electric, driver-optional, intelligent tractor, and about being Awarded California Energy Commission Grant for “Vehicle-to-Building Technologies for Resilient Backup Power".
Mark has over a decade of experience leading manufacturing organizations and has developed over 16 million square feet of manufacturing space. Mark previously served as head of the Tesla Gigafactory, leading the project from concept phase to construction. He also led the operations planning team and built the business systems for Tesla's Fremont factory and led the manufacturing program for Tesla's collaboration with Toyota for the Rav4 EV.
Released November 3, 2022 - SACRAMENTO, CA: Monarch Tractor and Farm Electrification Consortium Partners Awarded California Energy Commission Grant for “Vehicle-to-Building Technologies for Resilient Backup Power" Consortium, including Monarch Tractor, Gridtractor, Rhombus Energy Solutions, Current Ways, and Polaris Energy Services, will demonstrate On Farm Mobile Microgrids for intelligent bidirectional charging of electric tractors and support for critical electric loads during power outages.
Monarch Tractor, maker of the industry’s smartest, fully electric autonomous tractor, and its Farm Electrification Consortium partners have received a $3 million grant from the California Energy Commission (CEC) to accelerate electrification of agricultural equipment and demonstrate the ability of batteries in on-farm equipment to keep critical electrical loads running during power outages that are initiated with greater frequency due to wildfires. The consortium is comprised of Monarch Tractor, Gridtractor, Rhombus Energy Solutions, Current Ways, and Polaris Energy Services.
"With grid shutdowns, hardworking farmers lose significant time, resources and money in a business where America’s growers already struggle to see the profits of their hard labor," says Praveen Penmetsa, CEO and co-founder of Monarch Tractor. "Our tractor's ability to provide exportable power and act as a mobile generator will help keep the lights on for California’s farms even when the grid is down."
In addition to emergency scenarios, the consortium will develop and demonstrate technology to enable farmers to employ tractors to respond to conditions on the power grid by charging and discharging batteries to supply irrigation pumps and other on-farm loads in response to dynamic prices and demand response events. The consortium will develop hardware, software and communications technologies to link tractors and charging equipment to fleet operation centers and grid management systems.
"Farm equipment electrification can not only provide dramatic savings for growers but enable them to take control of their energy," says David Meyers, CEO of Gridtractor. "For the grid, agriculture is one sector in California with the electrical infrastructure already in place to support rapid EV adoption. With the backing of the CEC, this project will support building, deploying and testing the technologies required to take advantage of that opportunity."
“It makes all the sense in the world to make sure that these big investments we’re making on the transportation side also do double duty as grid reliability. And the amount of torque you need for a tractor, it’s perfect for batteries,” said Commissioner Andrew McAllister in the CEC August Business Meeting.
"We look forward to trying the Monarch MK-V in the field and seeing how it works with the Rhombus charging gear and Gridtractor system. Cleaner, cheaper power for our equipment is a win-win for both our customers and California's agricultural industry, which produces at least one-third of the country's vegetables and two-thirds of the country's fruits and nuts,” said Don Cameron, vice president and general manager of Terranova Ranch.
Monarch Tractor’s award-winning MK-V tractor is transforming agriculture by combining electrification, automation, machine learning, and data analysis to enhance farmer’s existing operations, increase labor productivity and safety, and maximize yields to cut overhead costs and emissions.