Battery-powered buses offer a number of benefits, primarily the environmental benefits of reducing carbon emissions, but secondarily, they are a lot quieter, making it much easier on people driving by, homes nearby bus routes and also allowing passengers to conduct conversations without raising their voice to overcome the engine and exhaust noise.
With electric vehicles now pushing into the commercial space, charging infrastructure is critically important to their success. To service these buses, the first electric bus depot has been created in Currumbin, just south of the Gold Coast.
Transport and Main Roads Minister Mark Bailey and Envrionment Minister Meaghan Scanlon made the joint announcement today in Queensland.
Back in January, 2021, TransLink announced the purchase of 15 more batter-electric buses from Nova Bus, adding to the initial 4, bringing the total fleet to 19. Each bus is expected to reduce 100 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions and save $40,000 in fuel costs per year compared to a conventional diesel bus.
It is common for those who doubt the merits of electric vehicles and their green credentials, particularly where their energy comes from. The answer, in this case, is a 56-kilowatt solar panel array, so 100% of the energy used to power the buses is renewable.
In a broader context, Australia’s grid is greening significantly. We have data about Australia’s energy mix from the states that participate in the National Energy Market (NSW, QLD, VIC, SA and TAS).
Over the past 3 months, renewable energy accounted for 26%, or close to 1/3rd of Australia’s energy needs.
- Hydro – 7%
- Solar – 7%
- Wind – 12%
If we take a state like South Australia and their renewable mix is an impressive 69% over the past 3 months.
- Wind – 59%
- Solar – 9%
- Battery – 1%
If we look at Tasmania, they actually lead the country with 99% from renewables
- Hydro – 83%
- Wind – 16%
Queensland as a state definitely has some work to do, with just 12% coming from renewable sources, unfortunately accounting for 79% of their energy still produced by coal.
- Solar – 7%
- Wind – 3%
- Hydro – 2%
This depot features charging infrastructure to support its growing fleet. Translink is aiming to fully transition its fleet entirely to renewable energy by 2050.
Nova Bus makes a couple of EV buses, the LFSe and a new model, the LFSe+ that features a modular battery system, capable of storing up to 564 kWh of onboard energy. The buses can support up to 68 passengers – 41 seated, 27 standing.
There is support for dual-charging options, both an overhead system that runs at up to 450kW, designed for a quick charge on regular routes. There is also a more conventional plug-in option which we see being used at the launch event today. This is a CCS type 1, J1772 connector, which has a maximum charging speed of 150kW.
The official spec says the bus can recharge at the depot in less than 3.25 hours.
Today it was announced that there would be 30 new electric busses across Queensland, this includes 10 new buses on the Gold Coast, 10 new buses for Logan, 5 new electric buses for Cairns and 5 new electric buses for the Sunshine Coast.
The 30 new EV buses are expected to be in service from June this year.
If you’re interested in the overhead charging concept, Translink Vancouver has a great demo video of the charger in action.