With 55 electric buses, a sizeable rooftop solar array, an onsite battery and decent charging infrastructure, Leichhardt in Sydney’s inner west is now home to a “blueprint” bus depot.
Public transport company Transit Systems, along with partners Zenobē Energy, a UK-based battery storage group, and network operator TransGrid, say the depot is an Australian-first at this scale.
The $36 million (USD 24 million) project illustrates that an electric bus fleet requires less charging than was forecast. “With regenerative braking, the buses often come back to the depot with a significant amount of charge still available – this is obviously fantastic as it reduces the load on the recharging infrastructure,” Transit Systems COO Greg Balkin said.
“It also means less downtime for the buses and we can adopt changes within our network planning to maximise route and energy efficiencies,” he said.
As part of the electric depot project, a 388 kW rooftop solar array has been commissioned alongside a 1.25 MW / 2.5 MWh Tesla battery system.
The depot boasts five 120 kW DC fast chargers and 31 AC 80 kW chargers. The depot has also been fitted out with smart charging software to monitor the buses, charging rates, solar consumption, battery discharge and overall electricity flows.
“This is by far Australia’s largest electrified depot and paves the way for Transport for NSW to reach their target and electrify all 8,000 buses across the network, using the latest technology,” Balkin said.
The depot received $24.5 million from Australia’s government’s Clean Energy Finance Corporation and a further $5 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
NSW’s public transport vision
In mid-December, the NSW Transport Minister David Elliott announced the state government would open $3 billion in funding to help 11 existing depots across Sydney to be converted for electric charging.
With the funding, the government is moving towards its vision of having more than 1,200 new buses manufactured under its zero-emission buses program, as it eventually seeks to replace its entire fleet with electric vehicles.
Given the announcement, where NSW stands on hydrogen buses is somewhat unclear. In 2021, Tim Stock, project director of hydrogen and clean energy at the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, said a “good portion” of the state’s bus fleet would be powered by green hydrogen by 2030.
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