Transgrid and Zenobe joint venture to pilot Australia’s largest e-bus fleet

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Australia’s high voltage electricity transmission network operator Transgrid and UK energy company Zenobe will be implementing a pilot of what is claimed to be Australia’s largest electric bus fleet.

The AUS$36 million (US$26/9 million) programme will include the deployment of 40 electric buses, charging infrastructure and a smart bus depot in Leichhardt in Sydney.

The 40 electric buses will have a combination of 368 kWh and 422 kWh onboard batteries and the depot will comprise five 120 kW electric bus chargers capable of charging two buses at a time, thirty-one 80 kW electric bus chargers, 2.5 MW / 4.9 MWh of stationary batteries, and 387 kW of rooftop solar PV.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) is providing AUS$5 million (US$3.7 million) to support the pilot. Transit Systems and Transport for NSW will also provide financial assistance for the pilot whilst the Clean Energy Finance Corporation is providing financing of AUS$24.5 million (US$1.83 million).

The project will run over a period of three years and is expected to create a model that can be used to help Australia increase the commercialisation of electric buses and their adoption to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transport sector.

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Results from the pilot will be used to further develop the Australian Government’s Future Fuel Strategy which aims to empower consumer choice, stimulate industry development and reduce emissions in the road transport sector.

Previous electric bus projects in Australia involved a maximum of five units, according to IRENA, and as such the Transgrid – Zenobe project is of significant importance owing to its scale.

ARENA CEO Darren Miller, said: “Heavy vehicle transport is an important area to target given that together buses and trucks account for 25 per cent of transport-related carbon emissions and five per cent of Australia’s total carbon emissions.

“ARENA is focused on projects that help prepare the electricity system for EVs. Appropriate coordination and management of EV charging can reduce risks and turn EV charging into a positive for the electricity network by improving capacity and renewable energy utilisation, benefiting all consumers.”

The first 12 of the 40 new electric buses will begin to enter service this month, with the rest of the fleet arriving over the next 4 months.