public. Making local transport more sustainable: e-buses could be a catalyst

public. Making local transport more sustainable: e-buses could be a catalyst-making

Traffic is responsible for about a quarter of global emissions. Public transport is only a small but essential part of this. Buses, in particular, are important to a city’s electrification process (trams, underground and suburban trains are usually electric) and are a high priority given emission reduction targets across Europe. The electrification of the public vehicle fleet is driven by the transit sector, which in turn is dominated by buses. China is a good example of how this development is progressing very quickly.

Shenzhen is the first city to have a fully electric bus fleet. The 16th.000 electric buses have made the streets quieter and cleaner. And although China’s power generation relies heavily on coal, the city’s buses have emitted around 48 percent less carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

However, this change is not only taking place in China. In 2018, the European electric bus market grew by almost 50 percent compared to 2017, and in 2019 the number of electric bus registrations in Western Europe tripled. In 2020, the battery electric bus market has continued to grow despite the numerous lockdowns across the continent. This growth will continue to accelerate for two reasons: first, as we increasingly return to the new normal after Covid-19, and second, as more cities embark on the carbon neutral journey.

Aleksandra O’Donovan, Head of Electrified Transport at Bloomberg NEF, predicts “municipal buses will be electrified faster than any other segment of road transport, with e-buses accounting for over 67 percent of the world’s bus fleet by 2040. (…) We expect the number of municipal e-buses to increase from 417.000 in 2019 to over 645.000 will increase in 2025 (about 39 percent of the global municipal bus fleet).”

The reason for the rapid conversion is essentially due to two factors. Firstly, the availability and wide range of electric buses on the market. Second, the green and cost-cutting mindset of city governments that are making their cities greener.

Large fleets in particular can be expensive in terms of fuel and maintenance. Electric vehicles, on the other hand, offer a number of advantages. The biggest argument is still that electricity as a fuel is cheaper than fossil fuels. Additionally, according to the Alternative Fuels Data Center, electric vehicles require less maintenance than conventional vehicles for a number of reasons. The battery, motor and associated electronics require little to no regular maintenance, there are fewer expensive fluids to change, brake wear is significantly lower due to braking energy recuperation, and there are far fewer moving parts than a traditional internal combustion engine.

In addition to lower fuel and maintenance costs, electric fleets also offer the advantage of modern energy management tools for additional savings. Since the electrical refueling can easily be linked to other systems such as telematics and route planning tools, fleet managers can optimize the time of refueling and power consumption that extend battery life and improve route planning to reduce costs. The charging can be planned if the current tariffs are low, and fleets can set performance limits to avoid expensive power consumption fees. Due to the lower maintenance effort, the vehicles can stay in operation longer, which lowers the total cost of ownership.

The Shenzhen Bus Group, the largest of the three bus companies in the city, has already proven this. It estimates that an electric core annually about 98.000 dollars costs, compared to 112.000 dollars for a diesel bus.

However, the complete electrification of buses is not a slight undertaking. Electric buses require large amounts of electrical energy and significant investments in the charging infrastructure. Cities must be willing to invest in technologies that support sustainable and clean transport so that power grids can cope with the increased demand. In order to accelerate the electrification of public transport, politics and the private sector must therefore work hand in hand,

An example of this collaboration working is the work of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA). It is a pioneer in the electrification of the bus fleet in the United States. By investing early in energy management capabilities, fleet managers can schedule charging during off-peak hours, avoiding costly “demand charges” and reducing power purchases from the grid. This, in turn, lowers the overall cost of electrification as expansion of power supply has been reduced.

E-mobility is not only on the rise in China or the United States, but especially in Europe. As more countries, cities and communities are now also electrifying their bus fleets to meet sustainability goals, save money and reduce pollution. E-buses could thus be the catalyst for quieter inner cities with better air quality, as they also enable millions of individual drivers to experience the benefits of electromobility in city traffic.

About the author: Andre ten Bloemendal, Vice President Europe at ChargePoint

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2 thoughts on “public. Making local transport more sustainable: e-buses could be a catalyst”

  1. That would be completely new to me if the municipal transport companies suddenly started thinking in a modern and environmentally conscious way. The top post is usually given to an intolerable ex-politician. His team typically consists of gray city officials of sluggish averageness, where prioritization is only applied when it’s a matter of getting to the end of the day on time.

    Rather, there is a “law on the procurement of clean road vehicles” as an implementation of the Clean Vehicles Directive of the EU. There a significant quota locally emission-free vehicles is prescribed in the municipal area. It is not more. If you did not want to order diesel buses in thirty years. The only good thing is that they are not inclined to buy hydrogen vehicles because electric is easier. And easier is good for you.

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  2. Problem: The operating costs may be lower, the acquisition costs are not. In addition, you need for the same line power for 9 diesel buses 10 battery E-buses. You do not want to intermediate but only in the depot. You have the impression The conversion takes place only if the operation 1: 1 can be done without changes in the process. Politicians have to put more pressure on here – but because of Corona, public transport currently has the problem that the number of users has fallen and nobody knows if and when they will rise again to the pre-Corona level.

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