The announcement of £48million under the Ultra Low Emissions Bus Scheme highlights the challenge for operators of how to adapt their depot systems to cater for an increasing proportion of electric buses. Zenobe Energy is one of the companies which has emerged in the sector to provide specialist battery and financing expertise to enable operators to make the transition.
Zenobe has recently completed its first project for storage and charging infrastructure for Stagecoach’s new electric fleet operating the Guildford park-and-ride. An upgrade of the onsite electric supply was threatening the viability of the electrification project since it would take 12 months to complete, and Stagecoach said it may have to move its operating centre at some point in the park-and-ride contract. Zenobe’s solution was to supply a stationary battery on site which incorporates a charging system that was installed within six weeks alongside a funding arrangement.
Zenobe points out that the stationary battery installation has the flexibility to be easily expanded or re-located if necessary.
The company owns and operates batteries connected to the grid and provides balancing services to National Grid. It currently operates more than 73mW of large batteries at nine sites across the UK.
“Stationary batteries in the depot help address a key issue for the operator which often, particularly in urban areas, does not have sufficient capacity from its grid connection to charge the vehicles when they are in the depot,” says a spokesperson for Zenobe. “This is because historically the grid connection has been used to provide low levels of power at the depot which is a far lower energy requirement than that required to charge 10 buses with around 300kWh batteries, weighing about 12 tonnes and which need to meet a route of up to 150 miles per day.”
Zenobe is also offering financing support for on-bus batteries, by taking ownership of the batteries and charging the operator on a monthly basis. When the battery no longer meets the operator’s route requirements Zenobe will remove the old battery and replace it and re-deploy the old battery in one of its grid-connected plants that provide services to National Grid.
“The advantages to the operator of this structure relative to acquiring a battery and bus is that we turn the up-front capex cost into an operating cost,” adds Zenobe. “We remove the risk of the timing of the failure of the battery from the operator and ultimately we remove the recycling risk of the battery from the operator or the manufacturer.
“We can utilise our battery knowledge to ensure that the issues raised by the operators adopting this new technology with all the associated risks can be addressed so that they can focus on the rolling out of new technology, the experience for the customer and the benefit of moving towards 100 per cent zero-emission vehicles”