Endesa and TMB launch the ultrafast charging station for electric buses in Barcelona

Published on Wednesday, 21 September 2016

This morning Endesa launched the ultrafast charging station for electric buses in Barcelona, together with TMB’s new 100% electric articulated bus. The system enables batteries to be charged to 80% within a few minutes, taking advantage of the time the bus stops at the end of the line.

Representatives from Endesa, Barcelona City Council and the metropolitan transport operator, TMB, attended the event, together with other agencies involved in the project.  Today’s event was a demonstration of the system which expects to be operating with passengers on board within approximately two months. The initiative forms part of the ZeEUS project aimed at promoting urban electric mobility, financed by the EU and in which a total of ten European cities are actively involved. 

The ultrafast roof-mounted pantograph charging system consists of two elements. On the one hand, the charger. This is a pillar, about five metres tall and similar to a lamp post, which is located at the last bus stop at the end of the bus line, where the bus normally stops for a few minutes before restarting its route. And then there is the retractable pantograph itself, a device with a mechanical arm installed on the bus’s roof which extends to join the charging system hood, attaching to it to start charging the bus while the vehicle is stationary. This system, also known as opportunity charging, enables 80% of the vehicle’s battery to be charged – which always ranges between 80 and 40% and never goes below this level, within 5 to 8 minutes thanks to the charging system's power of 400 kW. The charger is also connected to Endesa’s Control Centre, which shares data with the TMB Control Centre. This information enables the activity being carried out by the device and the status of the connected vehicle to be known in real time, which is extremely useful for operating the TMB fleet. 

The bus is equipped with two sensors: one at the front, which detects that the bus is nearing the charging hood and prepares the system for use; and another at the rear, which informs the pantograph arm that it can now extend to attach to the hood and charge the vehicle. The arm extends in just a few seconds and during this process passengers can get on and off the bus safely during the few minutes that it takes to charge the vehicle. Furthermore, the time it takes to charge the vehicle does not disrupt the bus timetable in any way, since it coincides with the driver’s short rest period before restarting the route. 

This charging system is sufficient for the bus to complete its daily route again, during which it will operate with the battery between 40 and 80% of its capacity. Apart from this opportunity charging system, Endesa has also installed two night-time charging stations at the bus depot, as part of the ZeEUS project, designed to charge the buses while the vehicles are not in use at night, fully charging the batteries within approximately two to three hours. 

The metropolitan bus line that will use this system for the first time is the H16, which joins the Barcelona Forum with the Zona Franca area, running in a parallel line to the sea and passing through Poblenou, the Vila Olímpica, Plaza Cataluña and Plaza España, covering a stretch of approximately 12 kilometres. This new bus network line will include, as a backup, the two 18 metre-long, fully electric, and therefore, zero emission, articulated vehicles, both of which are Solaris Urbino E18 models, which TMB has added to its fleet. These are the first of this size to be manufactured in Europe. This project confirms Barcelona's position as a leading city in terms of implementing clean solutions for bus transport based on progressive electrification: the five pure electric units and 159 hybrid units make up 15% of its operating fleet. 

ZeEUS Project (Zero Emission Urban System)

The development of the pantograph forms part of the ZeEUS project, the Zero Emission Urban Bus System, which promotes urban electric mobility, financed by the European Union and in which eight community cities are involved. 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: the two 18 metre-long buses which are being incorporated today and which will soon transport passengers; and two 12 metre-long buses that have been transporting passengers across the city since 2014. Endesa, as the sole power company in the consortium, has collaborated with the installation and management of the charging point operations, the study of which will enable the necessary infrastructure to be designed and planned for the electrification of the entire fleet of buses in Barcelona.  This charger also complements the ENEL group’s solutions for charging electric vehicles.

After installing the 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 not only to charge buses, but also to service other heavy vehicles such as cleaning or goods vehicles. 

The ZeEUS project, financed by the European Union, began in November 2013 and it is expected to 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 plug-in hybrid or electric bus technologies and different charging infrastructure solutions in a total of 10 cities in eight European countries. Münster, Randstad and Bonn, in Germany; Pilsen in the Czech Republic; Paris in France; Cagliari, in Italy; Warsaw in Poland, London in the United Kingdom and Stockholm in Sweden are also taking part in this initiative along with Barcelona. The aim of these tests is to validate the financial, environmental and social benefits of this system in order to assess its viability.