The UK’s First Solar Powered Bus

UK’s First Solar Bus – A Big Lemon, But Not

The UK’s first fully solar-electric bus, operated by the curiously named transport service The Big Lemon, is now cruising the streets of Brighton and Hove.

Previously a regular diesel bus fueled with waste cooking oil converted to biodiesel, the now-electric bus features 133 kWh battery storage capacity. The bus is recharged with electricity generated by a 21kW solar panel array on the roof of the bus depot that charges a large battery at the depot, which in turn charges the vehicle’s battery overnight.

The first rebirthed bus is also equipped with wi-fi and USB charging points.

The Big Lemon joined forces with Brighton Energy Coop for the project, which was financed in part by a crowdfunding campaign held last year that raised £13,325 in 28 days from 171 supporters.

“So with new solar-powered buses, and all our coaches running on used cooking oil, The Big Lemon just gets greener and greener,” said Managing Director Norman Baker.

This vehicle will apparently be the first of many, with another to be delivered soon. The Big Lemon says it has a goal of bringing zero-emissions electric buses to communities across the UK by 2030, all of which will be run by the local community and powered by renewables.

Winner of multiple awards, The Big Lemon has its roots back in 2006 when a group of people got together in Brighton to set up a local bus service that would be affordable and environmentally sustainable.

Solar buses have been attracting interest around the world in recent years; not just in relation to emissions reduction, but also operations and maintenance savings potential.

Australia lays claim to having the world’s first fully solar- electric solar bus in service, which operates in Adelaide. Named Tindo (not to be confused with Tindo solar panels), its 11 Zebra battery modules give it a range of 200 km between recharges under typical urban conditions.

Tindo solar bus – Image : City Of Adelaide

The bus is recharged via solar panels installed atop the Adelaide Central Bus Station that generate almost 70,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year. At the time the array was installed, it was Adelaide’s largest grid-connected solar power system.

Tindo operates around the city and North Adelaide as a free service.

By: Michael Bloch