‘Road to Renewables’ electric bus tour celebrating sustainable transport and energy projects ahead of COP26
The ‘Road to Renewables’ electric bus is driving from London to Glasgow ahead of COP26, stopping along the way at multiple destinations to highlight various projects that are driving the transition to net zero in the UK.
Credit: Stuart Nicol Photography
On 18 October 2021, UK Transport Minister Trudy Harrison MP signalled her support for a unique ‘Road to Renewables’ electric bus tour from London to Glasgow – as part of a partnership between SSE, the Go-Ahead Group and Build Your Dreams/Alexander Dennis Limited (BYD ADL) – to celebrate low carbon energy and transport projects that are transforming citizens’ lives.
The 11-day tour kicked off at Go-Ahead’s Northumberland Park bus garage in north London – one of the largest of its kind in Europe – to showcase the people and places that are driving the transition to net zero in the UK.
The site is also home to the Bus2Grid project – led by SSE, BYD, UK Power Networks, Transport for London (TfL) and other partners – which could enable electric buses to become two-way chargers capable of putting power back into the National Grid. Northumberland Park can charge 100 electric buses overnight, and London currently has 950 electric buses on the road or on order.
Trudy Harrison, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Department for Transport (DfT), said: “Today’s launch event is a wonderful example of the collaboration and innovation required to reach our net zero targets ahead of COP26, and Northumberland Park is already playing a huge role by bringing cleaner air to London with its 117 EV buses in operation. The government has recently pledged a further £2.8 billion to support the switch to cleaner vehicles, and the Bus2Grid project based here is precisely the kind of research that we need to power up the electric vehicle revolution, not just for cars but for public transport, too.”
‘Road to Renewables’
Following the kick-off event at Northumberland Park, the COP26 branded bus hit the road on its ‘Road to Renewables’ journey and is set to reach Glasgow three days before COP26 begins there, stopping along the way at multiple destinations to highlight various projects that are driving the transition to net zero in the UK.
For example, on 25 October 2021 (day six of the 11-day nationwide tour), Stagecoach welcomed the pure electric double decker bus to Manchester, home to the region’s first electric double-decker bus fleet.
In Manchester, the bus highlights the need to work towards its net zero ambitions for the future, showcasing the multi-modal electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Vehicles from small to large were charged simultaneously during the visit, to illustrate how shared infrastructure will be crucial in the future of net zero transport. Buses can be fully charged at sites such as Sharston in just a few hours. The Sharston depot also has a large solar array on the roof, generating renewable energy for the site to complement its grid connection.
Speaking of Stagecoach’s commitment to a greener future, Lee Wasnidge, Managing Director of Stagecoach Manchester, said: “We’re thrilled that our Sharston depot, the home of the region’s first double-decker bus fleet, was a stop on the COP26 Road to Renewables tour. As part of the national effort already underway to decarbonise energy and transport, Stagecoach has already made significant steps to target a zero emissions bus fleet across the UK by 2035. However, achieving net zero is about much more than just switching technology. We need to change how we live, making less use of cars and switching to more sustainable public transport, cycling and walking. This along with what we have set out in our strategy is vital if we are to meet the objectives of COP26. Maximising the benefit of investment in electric charging infrastructure by making facilities available to other fleet users, such as logistics companies, could help to accelerate decarbonisation. This would complement the wider opportunities to cut carbon emissions and reduce local air pollution.”
The ‘Road to Renewables’ journey concludes in Glasgow on 29 October 2021, three days before COP26 gets underway, where the bus will open an official charging garage for the climate change summit.
David Brown, Go-Ahead Group’s Chief Executive, said: “Go-Ahead is the UK’s largest operator of electric buses, with nearly 300 modern zero emission vehicles in our fleet. It is fitting that the ‘Road to Renewables’ journey starts at Northumberland Park Garage, home to approximately 120 electric buses and the pioneering Bus2Grid technology. Not only does a double decker bus take up to 75 cars off the road, reducing congestion and improving air quality – but, by decarbonising our fleet, we can make an even stronger contribution to tackling carbon emissions and enabling public health.”
Tom Cunnington, Transport for London’s Head of Bus Business Development, said: “Innovative projects like Bus2Grid are key if we are to decarbonise London’s bus network and support the wider national effort to reduce emissions. We are pleased to support the ‘Road to Renewables’ tour, and it is fitting that it begins in London, with most new UK zero emission bus orders coming from the capital. These orders are helping to support 3,000 jobs across the UK in places such as Scarborough, Falkirk and Ballymena in Northern Ireland. In the year of COP26, we have accelerated the pace of change, bringing forward the date that our bus fleet will be zero emission, and we have given a commitment to only purchase the greenest buses, with 950 on the road or on order.”
Bus & Coach