Transport for London (TfL) has announced it will be trialling wireless charging for the first time on hybrid buses in East London.
The plan, part-funded by European-led programme Zero Emissions Urban Bus System, is to see whether it is feasible to use inductive charging technology on four extended range diesel electric double-decker buses next year.
The trial will see four Alexander Dennis Enviro400H E400 buses, operated by Stagecoach, working on route 69 between Canning Town and Walthamstow bus stations, with wireless charging points being installed at both locations to allow the batteries to replenish while the bus is waiting at its stand.
It is hoped this regular charging will ensure the buses will rarely need to switch to diesel power during their time in service.
TfL will analyse the findings in order to help it develop plans to increase the number of electric buses on the road in Central London, in line with the Mayor of London’s proposed ‘Ultra Low Emission Zone’.
Mike Weston, Director of Buses at TfL, said, “We are continuing our assessment of new technology in the capital that can deliver genuine environmental benefits. This trial of extended electric hybrid buses, utilising the latest inductive charging technology, could be a step closer to getting even cleaner double-deck buses on London’s streets.
“We will be closely monitoring the results of the trials, which may help us to adopt this new cleaner technology.”
Weston added that the trial of hybrid double-deckers will complement the ongoing trial of six fully-electric single-decker buses, which he indicated would include a further two zero emission buses joining the fleet by the end of the year.
One of the suppliers in the consortium running this trial project, IPT Technology, has been tasked with supplying the inductive charging facilities. Earlier this year it was involved in a similar scheme in Milton Keynes.
The five-year trial ran by Arriva saw wireless charging introduced for the first time, with vehicles being charged via charging plates placed into the road. This would mean the eight-strong fleet of Wrightbus’s Streetlites could replenish power during scheduled driver breaks.
The aim was to see if the technology was viable both technically and commercially, as the eight buses are expected to run 17 hours continuously every day on the 15-mile route, just like their diesel equivalents, meaning they would cover 56,000 miles a year.
The wireless charging was devised to see if it was possible to charge without the need to plug the vehicle in, and it is estimated that in 10 minutes the inductive charging method could restore two-thirds of the electrical power used on the route.