Buses powered by electricity have to be able to cope with certain conditions. / sur

Spain is becoming a test bed for electric buses

The differences in climate and topography in this country make it ideal for testing the performance of sustainable public transport

A. NOGUEROL El Barco de Ávila

In the past few years numerous Spanish cities have acquired urban buses with low or zero emissions. The old diesel versions are gradually being replaced by others with alternative fuels, such as natural gas or LGP, and by engines that use electricity, either plug-in or hydrogen-powered.

In addition to these individual initiatives, Spain is becoming a test bed for electric mobility in Europe, thanks to some very special characteristics. There is not only a distance of 550 kilometres between Madrid and San Sebastián, but a great difference in temperatures and meteorological conditions. In Madrid in summer the temperature can easily be 40C, while in San Sebastián it could be just 20C. This extreme climate has made Spain and several of its cities ideal for testing the autonomy of these vehicles and helping to make 100% electric transport a reality.

This is within the context of he Law of Climate Change, under which by 2023 all towns with more han 50,000 inhabitants have to create Low Emission Zones. It means that councils are having to invest in sustainable mobility in order to receive EU funds which are partly designated for increasing electrification.

The trials are not only looking at the hardest point of consumption, the hottest places in summer and coldest in winter, but also the length of public transport lines in Spain. These are normally between 15 and 20 kilometres with an average of 45 to 50 stops, according to the Observatory of Metropolitan Mobility 2020.

The tests on the buses are also to ensure that they can cover complete shifts of between 15 and 20 hours uninterruptedly, with no charging in-between, and still have some energy left at the end of the day.

Drivers also need training before taking to the wheel of an electric bus, because the way they drive can have a considerable impact on its performance.