Speaking on Clean Air Day at Zemo's 20th Anniversary Conference in London, Lucy Parkin Director of ESG at Kleanbus addressed the significant opportunities in reducing urban pollution through repowering - converting an existing diesel or hybrid bus to electric power - which is fast and cost-effective.
However, with no funding available to reduce the price of a repowered bus, Kleanbus urges the UK Government to not wait on initiating a strategy that includes this vital upcycling technology, which has a huge role to play in decarbonising the bus fleet of England & Wales.
Kleanbus applauds funding initiatives, such as that led by Transport Scotland’s ScotZEB, which acknowledges the pivotal role of repowering and offers £50,000 grants to make SMEs access and expedite the transition of diesel buses to zero emissions.
However, wider funding is necessary for this crucial transition. Clean air is essential for mental health, and Kleanbus calls upon the UK Government to follow Scotland's lead in prioritizing the transition of the bus fleet to zero emissions. The impact of air pollution is evident, and taking swift action is vital to protect the health and well-being of these communities.
“We are extremely honoured to be part of ZEMO’s 20th Anniversary Conference on Clean Air Day” said Joe Tighe, CEO of Kleanbus. “This event has been crucial in highlighting pressing environmental issues and has provided a platform for discussion, action, and change. The data around the rising levels of air pollution and its harmful effects do not lie. It’s a worrying situation that is becoming more dangerous the longer we do not make the transition to zero emission transportation. Decarbonising transport has become one of the greatest challenges of our time but it can be achieved at speed with the right solution, and more importantly the support and funding to do so. Fleet operators and the planet don’t have time to waste, there is a need for UK to have a bus strategy that includes repowering of buses with electric powertrains. The UK is waiting when it needs to be acting. We at Kleanbus call for a greater level of support for operators to make the change to electric quicker to help us all breathe easier.”
With the escalating threat of climate change and the critical levels of poor air quality in cities, the largest environmental risk to public health in the UK is air pollution, responsible for approximately 4.2 million deaths worldwide each year. Transport, particularly buses, run on diesel engines which emit large amounts of carbon, oxides of nitrogen, and particulate matter significantly contributing to air pollution, making it imperative to introduce a cleaner solution quickly.
Public transport plays a vital role in keeping communities connected, especially for the 20% of the UK's population without private transport options. With four billion bus journeys occurring each year in the UK, buses serve the most vulnerable groups, including the disadvantaged, schoolchildren, and the elderly. Shockingly, research has shown that people living in deprived areas are twice as likely to die from lung disease compared to those in affluent areas, with a substantial correlation to air pollution levels.
There are also over 750,000 school children in the UK who rely on bus services to commute to school, but many of these services operate with highly polluting vehicles due to financial constraints. The presence of these pollutants near schools poses a risk to the health and well-being of the next generation.
Repowering existing buses by replacing their diesel engines or hybrid powertrains with fully electric powertrains is the fastest and most cost-effective method to achieve a zero-emission bus fleet. By doing so, it could bring about fully electric bus fleets six years earlier than relying on the roll out of new zero emission buses alone. This could give a potential saving of over 4Mt CO2 and reduce emissions by up to 80 percent across a vehicle's lifecycle.
Kleanbus offers an advanced 'ePowertrain Module' which combines components from leading Tier 1 suppliers with its own integration technology and proprietary software. This innovative solution enables the rapid and cost-effective conversion of single or double-decker buses from internal combustion engines to fully electric power. Once the e-drivetrain solution is designed and tested, repowering an individual bus takes less than two weeks, minimising service disruptions. Not only does this conversion significantly reduce emissions, but it also lowers operating costs to a third of those associated with conventional diesel buses.
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