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DNV provides technical due diligence for leading Australian bus electrification project

DNV, the independent energy expert and assurance provider, is participating in one of Australia’s leading end-to-end bus depot electrification projects.

The AUD$40-million initiative in New South Wales is being developed by a joint venture (JV) between leading UK-based battery storage operator Zenobē and Transgrid, the operator of the NSW high-voltage electricity grid.

On one of NSW’s major electric bus pilots, the project forms part of the State government’s plan to transition its 8,000 strong bus fleet to zero-emission vehicles by 2030.

“We are delighted to have leveraged our global expertise in large-scale electric vehicle, renewable generation and battery storage technologies for this project which will help accelerate the roll-out of next-generation, electrified public transport in Australia,” said Brice le Gallo, Regional Director for Energy Systems Asia Pacific at DNV.

“The project demonstrates the multiple functions that a battery energy storage system (BESS) can perform: storing solar energy, charging electric buses and helping support a more stable grid. It also highlights what our future power system can look like, and the central role that a smart grid combined with EVs and renewable generation can play in Australia’s low-carbon energy future,” Le Gallo added.

Zenobē Co-Founder and Director Steven Meersman said they selected DNV as the independent risk and assurance expert, to deliver the innovative outcomes with security and confidence.

“When we are delivering the future today, we need to work with like-minded partners who can assess solutions that are pioneering the industry. Our energy and transport networks are merging, which means we need holistic solutions such as the ones presented in his project to overcome the challenges and seize the opportunities that come from large scale electrification.

“We are glad to be growing Zenobē’s portfolio to include Australia and look forward to building on this innovative project and continuing to partner with local operators.”

Transgrid Acting CEO Brian Salter welcomed the support of partners in delivering the project.

“Our energy system is evolving rapidly and electrification of transport is an essential feature of the modern energy system and this initiative is a welcome addition to the grid-scale batteries and multipurpose energy hubs we are developing throughout Australia. We are delighted to see this project going forward,” he said.

Project details

Zenobē and Transgrid’s project will involve the supply of 40 electric buses and the transformation of Sydney’s Leichhardt Bus Depot, which is operated by Transit Systems, into a next-generation electric charging terminal. The venture will also install an integrated solar photovoltaic generation and BESS to supply power to the depot and to provide support services to the grid.

The Australian Renewable Energy Agency (ARENA) has awarded an AUD$5-million grant to the initiative, with additional funding secured from the Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC).

As part of the lending requirements, Zenobē sought due diligence expertise from DNV on the main technical aspects of the project. This advice, which was critical to securing project funding, included high-level appraisal, risk and mitigation analysis undertaken by DNV on the:

  • Selected equipment for the project, including the accessibility of spare parts (bus battery replacements, timing, cost and service impacts);
  • Supplier suitability, reliability and compatibility with the bus operating schedule (route, distance/kilometres and kWh); and
  • Solar power flows, BESS charging/discharging and power grid imports and exports.

DNV also advised the JV on the project’s commercial operation and contracts, the grid connection process (including the need for it to be capable of meeting the complex requirements of the bus depot’s charging infrastructure) and technical assumptions associated with the project’s financial modelling.

Supporting information

Large-scale, integrated EV, renewable generation and BESS projects are in the early stages in Australia but are poised to grow in scale and scope as the push for zero-emissions transport gathers pace.

The electrification of transportation and roll-out of EV infrastructure is a key component of the global energy transition, with the convergence and declining costs of solar PV, BESS and EVs accelerating this transformation.

Government and private sector collaboration is critical in building momentum for energy transition initiatives with supporting grants from ARENA and CEFC playing a leading role in developing the business case for smart network solutions.

The greening of commercial vehicles, such as public bus fleets, offers significant efficiency benefits over the electrification of private vehicles. These include economies of scale leading to lower fuel and maintenance costs, enhanced energy security and a reduction in air pollution in accordance with NSW’s Clean Air Strategy 2021-2030.

Greening public transport also has a larger and more immediate impact on greenhouse gas emission cuts and climate action, in line with the objectives of the Paris Agreement and Australia’s Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).

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