Sydney’s public bus system is set to trial the biggest electric bus fleet in the country, while Perth’s network is preparing to power up the green vehicles too.
The 40-strong fleet of electric buses in Sydney will service routes in the inner west, central business district, Mascot and Green Square, beginning with a dozen buses this month.
A trial of two electric buses in Perth is set to start in January for the Joondalup CAT bus route, and has the potential to scale up if successful.
The Sydney project is the first of its size backed by Australia’s Renewable Energy Agency, which has tipped in $5 million on behalf of the federal government.
Darren Miller, chief executive of ARENA, said buses and trucks accounted for 25% of transport-related carbon emissions and 5% of Australia’s total carbon emissions.
Miller hopes the trial will “kickstart the rollout of electric buses throughout the nation”, noting that ARENA was focused on preparing the electrical system for the vehicles.
“Appropriate coordination and management of EV charging can reduce risks and turn EV charging into a positive for the electricity network,” he said.
The $36 million project is a joint venture between Transgrid, the corporation that operates NSW’s electricity network, and UK-headquartered energy storage company Zenobe, along with the Clean Energy Finance Corporation providing debt finance.
Transgrid’s Eva Hanly said the partnership would provide a proven industry blueprint for other projects.
“The model we’re using could be used to facilitate the roll-out of electric buses and commercial vehicles at large scale across Australia,” she said.
“As we plan for the energy system of the future, this project will give us the data we need to understand how electrification of transport will affect energy supply and demand patterns.”
The entire bus fleet is due to arrive in the next four months.
In Perth, Volvo will supply trial vehicles through an existing agreement from 2019 with Volgren Australia to supply 90 buses a year for five years.
WA transport minister Rita Saffiot said the state planned to introduce electric buses on other parts of the Transperth network over time, such as on Perth CAT bus routes.
“We also plan to build these electric buses in WA, creating more jobs for Western Australians,” Saffiot said.