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Go-Ahead to Conduct Six-Month Bus Test with Solar Panels

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SINGAPORE: Your Singapore bus ride may soon be partially powered by the sun.

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Bus operator Go-Ahead Singapore has installed ultra-thin solar panels on the roofs of two of its buses, which will work with service 15. This is the first time such solar panels have been installed on buses here. .

The 1.6mm thick panels will convert solar energy into electricity to recharge the buses’ batteries.

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“This reduces the load on the vehicle’s alternator, and in turn saves fuel and reduces carbon emissions,” Go-Ahead Singapore engineering director Leonard Lee said on Tuesday (March 30th).

“The whole installation weighs less than 20kg – it’s very negligible compared to the weight of the bus as a whole, so it won’t negate the (fuel) savings.”

Ultra-thin panels were chosen over conventional solar panels due to their lightweight and flexible nature.

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The buses underwent “rigorous safety assessments” by the Land Transport Authority before being approved for public road tests, Go-Ahead said.

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Service 15 – one of the routes an electric bus was tested on about four years ago – is a 33km route departing from the Pasir Ris bus interchange and shipping areas such as Tampines and Marine Parade.

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The company had considered conducting the trial on shorter routes such as connection services, but decided on a longer route to better test the system, Lee said.

A Go-Ahead bus equipped with a solar panel at the Loyang Bus Depot on March 30, 2021 (Photo: Zhaki Abdullah)

The buses started operating on Tuesday and will run for six months until the end of September.

The panels are part of a trial to assess the performance and efficiency of buses in using solar energy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and fuel consumption.

The panels will initially be inspected weekly for two months, after which the inspection schedule will be reviewed.

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Go-Ahead Group – the parent company of Go-Ahead Singapore – has operated for over a year 18 buses equipped with solar panels in Southampton, UK, under its subsidiary Bluestar.

Using these panels has saved 1,400 L of diesel per bus per year, the carrier said.

This translates to reductions of around 3.7 tonnes of carbon emissions per bus, said Mr Lee of Go-Ahead.

“It was on the basis of the success of this trial in Southampton that we decided to bring the idea to Singapore, and in fact, we believe that solar panels should be even more efficient in the climate in Singapore,” said said Go-Ahead Singapore Managing Director Andrew Thompson.

Both buses equipped with solar panels meet the Euro 6 emissions standard for diesel vehicles, he added.

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The company could expand its solar panel installation to other buses, including electric ones, depending on the results of the ongoing trial, he said.

As part of Singapore’s 2040 Land Transport Master Plan, diesel buses will be phased out and replaced with cleaner energy models, including diesel-electric hybrids and fully electric buses.

“Buses are a very efficient form of public transport – they move a lot of people much more efficiently than cars,” Thompson said. “By installing solar panels, we can make diesel buses even more environmentally friendly and efficient.”

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