Renewable electricity for FYTbus

Case Study

Project Overview

Modelling and analysis by Cenex shows that FYTbus – a charity bus service on the Isle of Wight – will reduce its environmental impact and operating costs by transitioning to electric vehicles charged with self-generated renewable energy from solar and wind.

The Challenge

FYTbus is a charity bus services, run by Wight Community Access Ltd (WCAL), in the west of the Isle of Wight. It was set up in 2010 to address the withdrawal of commercial bus services in the west Wight. WCAL has six minibuses, covering three routes in the area plus demand-responsive transport to the local Health Centre and the Island’s hospital.

Following the Isle of Wight climate emergency declaration in 2019, WCAL decided to reduce air pollution in their area’s sensitive environment and benefit everyone living in and visiting the island. WCAL started their “HERO for ZERO” project aiming to replace the current fleet of six diesel minibuses with electric vehicles over the next five years, and to source electricity for charging from a zero carbon or near-zero carbon source.  Conceptual studies indicated possible approaches.

The Development

With support from the Rural Community Energy Fund (RCEF), WCAL has engaged Cenex to recommend the best way forward for them to provide a sustainable and cost-effective electricity supply so that they can electrify two out of the six diesel minibuses in a first stage.

Cenex provided an assessment of the energy demand of the minibus electrification in the depot and an exploration of on-grid and off-grid charging options with a focus on solar and wind energy generation feeding a battery bank, to support a recommendation of a feasible, green solution at an acceptable cost.

The Results

Cenex examined the energy demands of two minibuses on routes in west Wight and concluded that the FYTbus routes were ideal for electrically powered minibuses.

Cenex modelled and evaluated designs of both off-grid and on-grid systems and concluded that an on-grid system with a 25 kW ground-mounted solar panels and a 10 kW wind turbine accompanied with onsite energy storage would be a feasible on-grid renewably-powered scheme which can support the electrification of the community minibuses.

Modelling analysis also showed that if implemented, it has the potential to decrease the annual operating cost, offer high levels of energy autonomy and reduce CO2 emissions.

An unplanned benefit was that surplus energy could be fed through to businesses neighbouring the FYTbus depot.