The first public buses installed with ultra-thin solar panels have reportedly started operating on the roads of Singapore on Tuesday, as part of a 6-month proof-of-concept trail by leading public transport operator Go-Ahead Singapore.
This is the first time these solar panels, which are approximately 1.6mm-thick, shatterproof, as well as flexible, have been fitted on buses across Singapore.
These solar panels were installed on the roof of two Euro 6 MAN A22 diesel-powered buses. These buses would ply the service 15 route, which starts as well as ends at Pasir Ris Bus Interchange, in a trial that would run until the end of September.
With weight below 20kg, the solar panels can effectively generate over 1,000 watts of energy. These panels would be utilized to charge the bus’s batteries, making them depend less on the alternator of the vehicle. This in turn is likely to decrease the load on the engine of the bus.
The solar panels are expected to aid the firm in saving nearly 1,400 liters of diesel per bus annually. This is around 3-4% of the fuel that is normally consumed by the MAN A22 buses. This also translates to 3.7 tons reductions in carbon emissions per bus each year.
The trial aims to assess how the buses perform on the roads in Singapore, how effective the solar panels are in using solar energy as well as lessening the consumption of fuel. The trail would also assess how strong the solar panels are and whether they can handle the higher temperatures as well as the daily washing and maintenance activities.
Andrew Thompson, managing director, Go-Ahead Singapore, stated that given the sunny and tropical climate of Singapore, buses fitted with solar panels are expected to perform much better here.
Thompson further added that the firm needs to collaborate with the Land Transport Authority on this particular project as the busses are actually owned by the LTA.
The leading bus operator stated that both the buses have undergone thorough safety assessments by the Land Transport Authority and have also been approved for trials on public roads. The firm expects to recover the trial cost in four years with savings obtained from the lower fuel consumption.