London’s green bus revolution helps improve air quality

UK Power Networks and Transport for London are working together to turn London’s red buses green, before the new Ultra Low Emission Zone starts in April.

Holloway bus garage is the latest to house part of the capital’s growing fleet of electric buses, with 23 new electric buses replacing diesels on route 46 out of the north London garage. Holloway is also the ninth London bus garage to install electric charging. This means there are now 155 electric buses operating across the city, and by the summer of 2019 London will have one of the largest electric bus fleets in Europe.

The news follows London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s support for electric buses during a national radio interview last week.

UK Power Networks partnered with TfL to assess the work required to electrify bus routes and design the most cost effective way of delivering the electrical capacity needed. This holistic approach ensures that TfL get the smoothest, most cost effective solution every time a route from one of London’s bus garages is electrified.

Claire Mann, director of Bus Operations at TfL, said: “Buses play a crucial role in cleaning up London’s toxic air by providing an efficient, reliable and affordable alternative to driving. We want to make them even cleaner so that they have an even greater impact on improving the health of Londoners, which is why we’re replacing older, polluting engines with modern, cleaner alternatives.

“We can’t do this without having the right infrastructure in place, which is why UK Power Networks’ work to electrify several of London’s bus garages is so important to help us to ensure that our whole bus fleet is zero emission as quickly as possible.”

Transport produces 20 per cent of London’s emissions. UK Power Networks converted the UK’s first all-electric bus garage at Waterloo back in 2016 saving 700 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions a year. The company has been working closely with TfL since then to help realise their ambitions to have the entire 9,000 strong bus fleet electrified, supporting the Mayor’s plan to improve the city’s air quality. Waterloo was followed by electrified routes from bus garages at Camberwell, Croydon, Northumberland Park, Shepherds Bush, Willesden, Hounslow, New Cross and now Holloway.

“Running electric buses isn’t as simple as installing a few more electrical sockets,” said Neil Madgwick, head of service delivery at UK Power Networks.

“By carefully assessing the requirements we were able to significantly reduce the amount of power that was needed and introduce timed connections. For example; Holloway bus garage uses smart charging, drawing its maximum power between 11pm and 6am when local electricity demand is very low. This can help improve the city’s air quality in a cost-efficient way.”

UK Power Networks, which is a member of the Mayor of London’s EV Taskforce and OLEV’s Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce, is also gearing up to connect an estimated 4.1 million electric vehicles to its networks across London, the South East and East of England by 2030. Nearly a third of EVs already sold in the UK connect onto UK Power Networks’ system. The network operator has been at the forefront of pioneering smart grid technology that is enabling decarbonisation of transport in buses, taxis, on-street, home and fleet operations.

The company also established a dedicated team to help TfL deliver rapid chargers open to the public, and are on target to make sure they hit their goal of 300 public rapid chargers by 2020. It’s been achieved by streamlining the processes and guiding the deployment of chargers to the most cost-effective locations.

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