As part of its extensive work on electric vehicles (EVs), the International Energy Agency (IEA) published a case study on the impacts of increasing the share of e-buses in the state of Kolkata in India. The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) conducted the case study with support from the IEA, the West Bengal Transport Corporation (WBTC), and the Department of Transport, Government of West Bengal.
The IEA’s flagship report, ‘Global Electric Vehicle Outlook (GEVO) 2020’, which releases today, showcases the Kolkata study, as well as studies from cities such as Shenzhen, China; Helsinki, Finland; and Santiago, Chile. The study will also be featured in the key forthcoming IEA publication ‘Multiple Benefits of Energy Efficiency’.
“Energy efficiency is about learning from each other and highlighting good examples of success that all can benefit from. I am grateful to TERI, WBTC, and the Government of West Bengal for their important work in this cross-sectoral implementation effort, and commend them for highlighting the benefits of Kolkata’s electric mobility efforts. Examples such as these showcase the benefit and best practices of energy efficiency and electric mobility. The case study has also enabled Kolkata to act as an inspiration for other cities globally,” said Dr Brian Motherway, Head of Energy Efficiency Division, IEA.
Suvendu Adhikari, Minister-in-Charge, Department of Transport, Government of West Bengal, said, “We are committed to provide a smart, clean, and eco-friendly transport system to the state and to introduce vehicles run on cleaner fuel, thereby reducing our carbon footprint. It is my conviction that this step will significantly reduce particulate matter (PM) pollutants and will help citizens breathe cleaner air.”
Cutting down air pollution
Currently, a third of all PM pollutants from Kolkata’s transport sector come from buses, due to the comparatively high pollution associated with the conventional fleet. Since 2019, the WBTC has introduced 80 domestically manufactured e-buses. 150 more will enter service in the mid-term, and by 2030, the state envisions a roll-out of 5,000 e-buses. The Increased deployment of e-buses will also incentivise local manufacturing and stimulates the mobility industry to move towards electrification.
Prabhat Kumar Mishra (IAS), Principal Secretary, Department of Transport, Government of West Bengal, said, “Kolkata’s transportation network is diverse and has been running for centuries. The city has been a pioneer in e-mobility, and we would like to increase its share, to enhance the environment. I would like to thank IEA and TERI for including Kolkata as the only city from India and showcasing its successful operation of electric city buses in the flagship report, Global EV Outlook (GEVO) 2020.”
Expanding the e-bus fleet can directly lead to cleaner air locally, as well as contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. By 2030, it is expected that the e-buses will reduce annual CO2 emissions by almost 2,00,000 tonnes. Furthermore, the WBTC is planning to solarise bus depots and introduce battery storage, thereby further contributing to decarbonising the transport system.
“Electrification of public transport is an effective way to bring down air-pollution levels in cities, and e-buses are one of the most potent solutions to initiate this transition to sustainable, at-scale mobility. TERI is delighted on the launch of its case study on the successful implementation and operation of the e-buses model in Kolkata. The support received from the WBTC as well as from Government of West Bengal for this study is deeply appreciated,” Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General, TERI, said on the occasion.
The financial case for e-buses
Aside from greatly reducing air pollution, the transition to electric public transport also makes financial sense, because battery-operated buses run at a third of the operational cost of a diesel bus. It is envisaged that the large scale deployment can bring down the high capital costs of these e-buses in the near future, a trend that has been seen in other countries.
Behind the successful running of 80 e-buses in the city is a smartly planned charging station placement and operation scheme, that leverages existing infrastructure and provides both slow and fast charging options. With increased renewables deployment introducing more variability in power systems, e-buses could provide a smart balancing opportunity as they interact with the grid.
A further factor to the success of Kolkata’s e-bus experiment has been the establishment of strategic partnerships and close cooperation with power distribution companies. This enabled productive discussions about tariffs, leading to arrangements of a time-of-day tariff that has been financially beneficial for e-bus operations. Collaboration with distribution companies has also made it possible to avoid large investments in electrical network augmentation.
“Kolkata has been passionately running tramway, an electrical mode of transport, for more than a century. Just like the trams, the city has introduced EVs to decarbonise the transport sector and emerge as a national pioneer in the operations of e-buses for public transport. In the future, WBTC would be increasing the number of e-buses in the streets of Kolkata and surrounding areas to reduce pollution and dependence on fossil fuels and provide a safe and comfortable journey to commuters. I would like to thank my WBTC team for taking our bus system to the global level through IEA’s GEVO 2020 report” said Rajanvir Singh Kapur (IAS), Managing Director, WBTC.