First Bus has completed its project to install 160 chargers at its main Glasgow depot thanks to significant investment from the Scottish Government
Glasgow is now home to the UK’s largest electric vehicle (EV) rapid-charging centre following the completion by First Bus of the major transformation of its flagship Caledonia depot. Scottish Transport Minister Jenny Gilruth visited the site on 25 May to mark the completion of works, which will allow 150 EVs to be charged at the depot at one time – a feat that the Minister hailed as ‘a game changer.’
The depot, located in Glasgow’s southside, has had 160 rapid charging points installed over the last nine months, supporting the operator’s ambition to be emission-free by 2035. It will not only support First Bus and its growing electric fleet in Glasgow, but is also planned to help other organisations operating in the city to decarbonise their own fleets as First Bus is trialling offering the use of its charging infrastructure to third-party businesses during the day when its buses are out on service.
The company now plans to expand the depot further, in partnership with Ofgem and Scottish Power Energy Networks, with the construction of a new substation. This will supply enough power to host an additional 200 vehicles and charging points and will provide it with a total capacity of 350 charging points once built.
Commenting on her tour, the Scottish Minister for Transport said: “I am delighted to visit the depot to see the scale of what the largest DC charging centre in UK is now, which has been made possible by £26.3 million of Scottish Government investment. This really is a game changer in our progress towards decarbonising Scotland’s buses.
“Alongside free travel for under-22s and over half a billion pounds in long term funding for bus priority infrastructure, we’re putting buses at the heart of Scotland’s just transition to net-zero by helping people to choose to travel more sustainably. We can only achieve that transition by all pulling together. What’s been achieved at the Caledonia depot is a great example of partnership working with the bus, energy and finance sectors to make the best use of Scottish Government investment.”
Duncan Cameron, Managing Director at First Bus Scotland, commented: “We are thrilled to announce the completion of our Caledonia depot. It’s a landmark moment on our journey to an entirely zero emissions fleet and a vital step in decarbonising the local environment and improving air quality. We’re proud to enable more Glasgow companies to realise their own paths to zero emissions, too. With the great range of our new EVs, and the immense power of these new charging stations, our buses only need to stop to be charged overnight, allowing us to free up the depot during the day for other electric fleets in and around Glasgow.”
First expects its fleet at Caledonia to be 50% electric by December 2022 when it takes delivery of a further 52 electric buses, adding to the 98 already operating in the city.
The rapid-charging stations can fully charge a bus in just four hours if required, and the charging is be controlled via smart-charging software. This intelligent solution will ensure that power is used in the most efficient way – minimising the draw-down from the National Grid at peak times. First Bus plans to replicate this model across many more sites as part of its decarbonisation journey.
First said the project will now act as a pathfinder for other locations around the UK as its looks to ramp up its decarbonisation programme with further investment committed alongside recently awarded funding via ScotZEB funding in Scotland and ZEBRA funding from the UK Government in England and Wales.
Managing Director Janette Bell said: “Today marks another major milestone in our decarbonisation journey with the completion of the Glasgow Caledonia electrification project. This inspiring project has seen the depot transformed into one of the biggest EV rapid charging hubs of its kind anywhere. To deliver a project of this scale is a magnificent achievement for all the teams involved.
“Caledonia Depot is now our pathfinder project as we roll-out electric vehicles at scale across the rest of the UK and marks a very exciting turning point for both our people and our customers.”
Further zero-emission deliveries include 50 new electric buses which are planned for the firm’s Scotstoun depot, whilst First Aberdeen’s fleet will be bolstered with an additional 24 electric single-deckers.
In addition, First Bus and its local authority partners in five regions have been successful in their bids to secure funding for new electric vehicles through the Zero Emission Buses Regional Area (ZEBRA) scheme. This will lead to a further 193 EV buses across Leicester (68 buses in partnership with Leicestershire County Council), York (44 buses in partnership with York City Council), Bramley (32 buses in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority), Norfolk (15 buses in partnership with Norfolk County Council), and Portsmouth (34 buses in partnership with Portsmouth City Council and Hampshire County Council).