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Tallinn planning to acquire some 650 electric buses by 2035

BC, Tallinn, 08.01.2019.Print version
The Tallinn public transport company Tallinna Linnatranspordi AS (TLT) is planning to transfer fully to electric transport by 2035, which means the purchase of approximately 650 electric buses and abandoning of trolleybuses and natural gas buses. reported LETA/BNS.

Chairman of the management board of TLT, Deniss Borodits, said that the company is planning to replace its entire fleet of vehicles by 2035. "By then also trolleybuses -- an electric bus is like a trolleybus but in a new form --, we definitely also want to make additions to some routes and add new routes. In total, this means approximately 650 to 700 transport units," Borodits told.

According to the head of TLT, the cost of an electric bus varies significantly across manufacturers. Borodits initially named approximately 500,000 euros as the price of one electric bus, but cheaper Chinese buses may also cost only 150,000 euros. "As time goes by, the cheaper technology will become, we have noticed that in the last few years. An electric bus is no longer a test bus, but also a mass production bus, and the thing with rolling stock is that, the more massive it becomes, the cheaper it becomes," he said.

The state-owned Estonian energy group Eesti Energia and TLT on Tuesday entered into a cooperation agreement for the testing of electric buses in Tallinn and finding solutions for the better charging of the vehicles.

According to the agreement, the electric buses will be tested on up to two bus routes in Tallinn. During the pilot project, Eesti Energia will develop a smart charging solution, which will be able to manage charging according to electricity price and loads, Eesti Energia said.

In the framework of the pilot project, bus routes will be chosen in Tallinn for which 10 electric buses will be bought to prepare for the implementation of electric transport in Tallinn on a larger scale.

Margus Vals, member of the management board of Eesti Energia, said that the company's aim is to be prepared for the general increase in the number of electric cars. "According to the common understanding, the growth of electric transport will cause too great of a load on the electricity network," he said.

"We believe that this burden may not develop into a problem as electric vehicles can also be considered as storage devices. The idea of the use of storage technology in the energy sector lies in energy being stored during a cheaper electricity price and introduced into use once the price is higher," Vals said.

According to Vals, the stored energy can also be directed back to the network and used to disperse the load of the electricity network, increase the implementation of renewable energy and ensure the stability of the network during the time when Estonia is desynchronized from the Russian electricity system. "Thus in conclusion, we believe that electric cars can be put to work as part of the network," he said.

TLT and Eesti Energia are also hoping to receive support at least for the pilot project. "In terms of the joint project, there are a couple of funds we wish to receive funding from, one being Horizon 2020. We definitely wish to receive external funding, too," Borodits said. The first 10 or so electric buses and the initial infrastructure necessary could arrive in Tallinn by next year.

With the current technology, an electric bus is able to drive approximately 150 kilometers with one charge, while the buses in Tallinn cover some 450 kilometers per day. According to Borodits, charging could be possible at depots as well as the final stops. "But let us also look at the perspective, I think that in a few years, there will be batteries that would allow for drives without intermediate charging. That the bus will drive out in the morning and there will be enough electricity until the bus returns to the bus park in the evening. We know that technology will develop further," he said.

TLT's plan to transfer fully to electric transport by 2035 would also mean having to abandon natural gas buses by that time. However, Tallinn has yet to acquire the gas buses. "We are still in the process of acquiring the gas buses, the lifetime of them has been calculated for us to be around eight to 10 years. We also want to keep our bus park relatively young," Borodits said.

As to when TLT will move from testing the first electric buses and carrying out the pilot project to large-scale tenders and replacing the entire transport part depends after all on cost-effectiveness and when the procurement of electric buses is financially the best solution, Borodits said.

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