First Bus opens the UK’s largest charging depot in Scotland
Glasgow is now home to the largest fast-charging centre for electric vehicles in the UK after First Bus completed the transformation of its Caledonia bus depot. The depot in the south of Glasgow has seen 160 fast-charging points installed over the past nine months. And, this was just phase 1.
First Bus announced the project in the summer of 2021 and appears right on schedule with the construction. 160 rapid charging points are now operational and will charge First Bus’ growing electric bus fleet overnight.
At the same time, the operator made the unusual step of opening the depot for selected third parties to charge their vehicles during the day when the buses are out on service. The charge points come with CCS and so can be used by others. However, the depot is not open to the public but registered fleet partners on a trial basis.
Smart-charging software controls the charge points to minimise power consumption from the grid and distribute the power as efficiently as possible to the charging vehicles. Heliox has supplied the software and charging stations.
While visiting the depot, Scottish Minister for Transport, Jenny Gilruth, said she was “delighted to see the scale of what the largest DC charging centre in the UK is now.” She added, “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.” Scotland has invested £26.3 million there.
For phase 2, First Bus plans to expand the depot by building a new substation in partnership with Ofgem and Scottish Power Energy Networks. This will provide enough power for an additional 200 charging points, bringing the total capacity to 350, so the company.
First Bus’ fleet at Glasgow’s Caledonia depot will be 50 per cent electric by December 2022, when an additional 52 electric buses will be delivered. There are currently 98 electric buses in operation in Glasgow, all part of an order placed with ADL-BYD ahead of COP26 in 2021. The operator had taken the climate conference as the opportunity to introduce 22 single-deck electric buses to Glasgow, which stayed in service after the delegates left. At the time, First Bus had placed said order for 148 electric buses to shuttle Glaswegians from March 2023.
First Bus aims to run a 100% electric fleet by 2035, so the decarbonisation runs beyond Glasgow. First Bus Managing Director, Janette Bell, said, “Caledonia Depot is now our pathfinder project as we roll out electric vehicles at scale across the rest of the UK.”
First Bus was awarded funding via ScotZEB (Scot Gov) and ZEBRA (UK Government). The latter helps pay for 193 EV buses across various UK regions. The latest ScotZEB funding round will facilitate 50 new electric buses for First Glasgow’s Scotstoun depot, and First Aberdeen’s zero-emission fleet will be bolstered with an additional 24 electric vehicles.