Electro-bus route to future

Easily, smoothly, silently, the brand new electro-bus rolls through Nesvizh palace and park estate, drawing the eyes of passersby

Easily, smoothly, silently, the brand new electro-bus rolls through Nesvizh palace and park estate, drawing the eyes of passersby. Vladimir Drozdovich, who is both an electrician and the driver of the vehicle, is taking it on its first excursion but, soon, all guests will be able to take a ride. He notes, “The bus gives such a smooth and comfortable ride. It’s quite unusual and very different to a petrol bus. There are five stops on the route, with the bus travelling at 3km per hour, allowing tourists to enjoy passing sights.”

Electro-bus in Nesvizh is the first step towards green economy

The battery can last 50-70km but drivers don’t let it run down completely. It takes 3-4 hours for the bus to recharge, and main charging takes place at night.

The new transport is part of an international project entitled Supporting the Transition to a Green Economy in the Republic of Belarus, financed by the European Union and realised by the UNDP. The vehicle may look like entertainment but it’s actually providing safe and eco-friendly transport. The Deputy Chairman of the Nesvizh District Executive Committee, Mikhail Afanasiev, complains that traditional transport emissions harm not only the city’s environment but its ancient heritage. He notes, “We’re restoring the ancient Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church, with 16-18th century frescoes on its facades. These are the only such discoveries in Belarus, so we must protect them. We aim to create two sites outside the city, transporting tourists via eco-friendly transport. Every year, over 500,000 tourists come to our city — which is rather a burden. The project is ready and we’re now working on land allocation. If we find good investors (many are already demonstrating interest), it will be realised in the shortest possible time.”

E-transport is both environmentally friendly and profitable, while ensuring independence from traditional types of fuel. Many countries are using it already, while, Belarus is now taking its first steps. Our railways are developing more actively than cars, with over 20 percent of lines now electrified. Belarus’ own production of e-buses and e-cars is in its infancy, with experimental samples, but two E433 e-buses (manufactured by Belkommunmash) will have joined Minsk’s streets by late 2016. Next year, another 18 are to be produced.

“It’s vital to shift to eco-friendly transport,” comments the Deputy General Director of the Scientific-Research Institute of Transport, Transtekhnika, Dmitry Koval. He adds, “Around 70 percent of air pollution is the result of transport emissions; in large cities, this figure reaches up to 90 percent. However, new ecological transport virtually halves this.” There are ten buses using natural gas in Minsk, and they are proving truly economic. “Methane costs are just 40 percent of those of diesel fuel, so running these ten buses has saved money. As regards prime costs, we want to ensure that these don’t exceed 5 percent of diesel transport costs.”

Our e-buses are still too expensive, although they would pay for themselves after 20 years. Sadly, their guarantee period lasts just ten years. Yevgeny Malchevsky, who heads the Innovative Policy Department at the State Committee on Science and Technology, asserts that we are more than capable of producing and processing accumulator batteries. He notes that two production facilities are planned for the Brest Region, via a company with American capital and a Belarusian plant. “The second project is already being realised,” he says. “Its launch is planned for 2019. We’ll support this enterprise, as it ensures import substitution and focuses on exports. Moreover, in constructing an accumulator battery plant, we plan to introduce a full cycle of processing new accumulators.”

Many Belarusian agencies and institutions are now working on developing green transport and related infrastructure. Our e-buses and e-cars will find their place, as Iya Malkina, the First Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Environmental Protection, agrees. “The world is quickly developing. It was once hard to believe that mobile phones would supersede fixed lines. I sincerely believe that, within a decade, all transport should be electric. This feeds into Parisian Climate Agreement principles.”

By Veronika Artemieva
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