Endesa and TMB unveil ultrafast charging project for electric buses

Published on Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Today Endesa publicly unveiled the ultrafast charging project for electric buses that it is working on together with the municipal transport operator, Transportes Metropolitanos de Barcelona (TMB). This system, designed for electric buses, enables batteries to be charged in just five minutes, thanks to a charger connected to a pantograph installed on the vehicle’s roof. The project is currently in the construction phase in Calle Cisell, in Marina del Prat Vermell, a suburb of the Sants-Montjuïc district of Barcelona. The presentation formed part of the 12th Catalonian Mobility Conference, organised by the Association of Municipalities for Urban Mobility and Transport (AMTU), which was held in Mollet del Vallès. National and international technicians and experts from the public and private transport sector took part in the event. 

The ultrafast charging system has a power rating of 400 kW and consists of a module, about five metres tall and similar to a lamp post, which is located at the bus stop at the end of the bus line, where the bus stops for a few minutes before restarting its route. The vehicle has a retractable pantograph (a device with a mechanical arm) installed on the roof, which has a sensor that detects when the vehicle is alongside the module in order to charge the vehicle. While it is parked there, the pantograph arm extends until it joins the charging system hood.

The charger is being installed in Calle Cisell, near to Plaza del Nou, and will be connected to Endesa’s control centre, where the data will be shared with TMB. This will allow the activity being carried out by the device to be known in real time, as well as the status of the connected vehicle. Installing the charger has also required an underground power transformer unit to be fitted solely for the charger. 

The metropolitan bus line that will benefit from this system is the H16, which joins the Barcelona Forum with the Zona Franca area, running in a parallel line to the sea and passing Poblenou, the Vila Olímpica, Plaza Cataluña and Plaza España, covering a stretch of approximately 12 kilometres. This new bus network line will include two, fully electric and therefore, zero emission, articulated vehicles, measuring 18 metres in length, both of them being the Solaris Urbino E18 model, the first buses of this size to be manufactured in Europe and which are currently undergoing tests by the TMB engineering department. Barcelona will therefore confirm its position as a leading city in terms of implementing clean solutions for bus transport, based on progressive electrification: The 5 pure electric units and the 159 hybrid units will account for 15% of the operating fleet. 

ZeEUS Project (Zero Emission Urban System) 

The development of the pantograph forms part of ZeEUS, the Zero Emission Urban Bus System Project, which promotes urban electric mobility, financed by the European Union and which is being carried out in eight community cities. Barcelona, via Transportes Metropolitanos de Barcelona, is at the forefront of the test phase for this programme in the Catalonian capital, with the launch of four zero-emission buses, two of which (both 12 metres long) have been transporting passengers across the city since 2014. Endesa collaborates with the installation and management of the charging point operations, the study of which will enable the necessary infrastructure to be designed for the electrification of the entire fleet of buses in Barcelona.  

After installing two charging stations at TMB’s bus depot, the project has taken another step forward with the installation of the first on-street charging system for buses. The advantages of this system, apart from how fast it charges, is the fact that it enables buses to carry a lighter and smaller battery which, in turn will cost less. This station model, as with others, is designed to not only charge buses, but also service vehicles such as cleaning or goods vehicles. 

The ZeEUS project, financed by the European Union, began in November 2014 and will run until April 2017. With the aim of extending electric mobility to urban city transport, ZeEUS is carrying out a number of tests with different electric and hybrid bus technologies and different charging infrastructure solutions in a total of 20 European cities. Together with Barcelona, other cities taking part are Münster and Bonn, in Germany; London and Glasgow, in the United Kingdom; Cagliari, in Italy; Stockholm in Sweden and Pilsen, in the Czech Republic. The aim of these tests is to validate the financial, environmental and social benefits of this system in order to assess its viability.