Australia’s largest electrified bus depot has powered up in Leichhardt, in Sydney’s inner west. Now with 55 electric buses, a rooftop solar array, onsite battery and charging infrastructure, the new depot is considered a blueprint for what electrified public transport could be.
The depot, operated by Transit Systems and partners Zenobē Energy and TransGrid, cost an estimated $36 million, and has shown that electric bus fleets require 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,” said Transit Systems COO Greg Balkin.
“It also means less downtime for the buses and we can adopt changes within our network planning to maximise route and energy efficiencies.”
The depot includes a 388 kW rooftop solar array and a 1.25 MW/2.5 MWh Tesla battery. It has five 120 kW DC fast chargers and 31 AC 80 kW chargers, and smart charging software to monitor charging rates, solar consumption, battery discharge and 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 the Clean Energy Finance Corporation, and $5 million from the Australian Renewable Energy Agency.
The depot is just one component of the state’s master plan to electrify its bus fleet, with the state government in December announcing the approval of $3 billion in funding for a new fleet of Zero Emissions Buses (ZEBs) and charging infrastructure.
“This major investment will make NSW a global leader and will also deliver benefits to the local economy by supporting over 1400 jobs as we ramp up local bus production,” said NSW Minister for Transport, Veterans and Western Sydney, Dave Elliot.
More than 1200 new buses will be manufactured under the ZEBS program as part of a plan to eventually replace the entire fleet with electric vehicles. The funding will also help retrofit eleven existing depots across Sydney.
You can listen to our interview with Greg Balkin on The Driven podcast: Electric buses and range anxiety.