Environment 18 August, 2017 10:00 am   
Editorial staff

REPORT: electric buses a chance for clean air in cities 

The e-bus program promoted by the Polish government will support the industry, use our production potential and become part of the strategy for low-emission transportation.

Polish producers of electric buses are Solaris (exports its vehicles to, among others, Spain, Germany and Sweden) and Ursus (pilot experiment of the first model is now taking place). Additionally, a Volvo factory where hybrid and electric buses are produced is located in Poland. The continuously improving production allows the Polish companies to compete on international markets. Bus production contributes to the growth of companies that deliver components for the vehicles, as well as to the development of services and production of spare parts.

800 buses by 2020

Every year about 800 buses are replaced. In 2015 sixteen out of them were electric buses. According to the announcements by the Ministry of Economic Development, a thousand electric buses will be driving on the Polish roads by 2020. The buses will be purchased as part of the following programs: Infrastructure and Environment Program – Development of Public Transport in Cities (EUR 2300 m), Eastern Poland Program – Sustainable Urban Transport (EUR 440 m), Gazela BIS (The National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management – PLN 300 m) and Regional Operational Programs and the Polish Development Fund. Over 40 districts across the country have already joined the e-bus program.

Suitable legal regulations will be introduced to make it easier for local governments to buy e-buses, those will include:

  • exemption from acquiring the license for energy trading for businesses that provide charging services for electric vehicles,
  • exemption from the duty to acquire a construction permit for the building of charging points and grid connections for electric vehicles,
  • eco-guidelines in order specifications,
  • removal of administrative obstacles for easier construction of charging points by public roads,
  • exemption of charging points from property tax (located in the TEN-T network).

Added value

According to the Ministry of Economic Development annual production of buses, which will yield 1000 units will create 5000 new jobs and a market worth PLN 2.5 bn.

Warsaw’s Urban Bus Company (MZA) is planning to buy 100 electric buses. This will constitute about 10% of all of the vehicles owned by the company. Today that figure stands at 0.7% and only 77.6% of the company’s vehicles meet the regulations on the exhaust emission standards at the Euro IV level and higher. After 2020 when the expansion of infrastructure for electric buses is completed, the MZA demand for energy will be 48.2 MWh on a weekday. This will pose a particular challenge for the power system.

Europe bans diesels in cities 

The European Commission wants local authorities to withdraw traditional buses from cities. The goals of all of these actions are to:

  • lower the dependence of European countries on imported oil,
  • lower the emission of greenhouse gases,
  • improve the quality of air and lower noise at the local level.

Currently, the available electric buses differ from one another when it comes to the kinds and battery capacity, the possibility of quick charging and equipment. Specialists from Warsaw’s Urban Bus Company believe that companies or institutions that want to buy and use electric buses should take into consideration the following when making a decision:

  • the price of the bus and the price of the purchase and infrastructure construction;
  • battery life (number of charging cycles);
  • carrying capacity of the vehicle;
  • quick charging time;
  • amount of energy recovered during braking;
  • mileage;
  • temperature range for vehicle use;
  • servicing costs;
  • vehicle’s energy consumption;
  • energy consumption of the vehicle’s equipment (cooling, heating);
  • emissions;
  • security level of the installation.

 How much is it

The calculations prepared for MZA show the real differences between the price of purchase and exploitation of electric and fuel vehicles. Today a standard articulated bus costs PLN 1 290 000. An electric bus of comparable size and with a 600 kWh battery charged at night at the depot costs PLN 3 900 000 (with infrastructure PLN 4 010 000). A bus with a 125 kWh batter charged with high power using a pantograph costs PLN 2 500 000 plus about PLN 183 000 for infrastructure. A bus that is inductively charged and has a 220 kWh battery costs PLN 3 150 000 plus PLN 300 thousand for infrastructure. Each of the buses can be charged at night via an electrical cord at a depot or at the end of the route.

The benefits of an electric bus include the fact that it is environmentally friendly and does not emit any regulated substances or CO2 (in Warsaw the CO2 will be reduced by about 40%).

The drawbacks include the purchasing price and the necessity to adapt the infrastructure. Forecasts on the increase of fossil fuel and energy prices show there is a chance for reduced exploitation costs of electric buses. Currently the costs of the electric and fuel buses are the same if a bus’s annual mileage is 80 thousand kilometers and after 8 years of depreciation and 10 years of the infrastructure’s depreciation. The dropping costs of battery production will impact the development of urban electromobility and the capabilities of local governments to purchase electric buses. It is also worth remembering about the research on popularizing hydrogen fuel cells in buses; the studies on graphene, which will make it easier to store energy and speed up charging, as well as gas-mobility, which can be a bridge between the Diesel buses that do not meet the emissions requirements and electric buses.