The world’s first solar powered bus is located in Adelaide, South Australia – which makes it especially heaps good*.
Tindo – the name of Adelaide City Council’s electric solar bus – is the first in the world to be recharged using 100% solar power.
Tindo features 11 Zebra battery modules that use sodium/nickel chloride technology. According to Adelaide City Council, the controlled temperature batteries operate “without loss of performance or life expectancy in virtually any conditions”.
The batteries give the electric bus a range of 200 kilometres between recharges under typical urban traffic conditions.
The solar electric bus is recharged by a solar panel system installed atop the Adelaide Central Bus Station; currently the city’s largest grid-connected array. The solar panels will generate almost 70,000 kilowatt hours annually.
Tindo can carry up to 40 passengers in air-conditioned comfort and has covered over 55,000 kilometres since February 2013. Through the use of the bus, Adelaide City Council will save over 14,000 litres of diesel and avoid over 70 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in its first year of use.
The name of the bus was taken from the Kaurna Aboriginal word meaning ‘sun’. Tindo is also the name of a brand of solar panel constructed in South Australia; however, it’s not clear if those were used in this project.
Funding for the half-million dollar solar power system was provided by the Australian Government through the Adelaide Solar City program, with the Adelaide City Council also contributing to the cost.
Trips on the bus cost passengers nothing – travel is provided as part of the free Adelaide Connector Bus service; which now caters to more than 150,000 passengers a year. For those living in or visiting Adelaide wanting to use the service and perhaps experience a ride on Tindo, the current Connector Bus timetable and route can be viewed here (PDF).
Tindo is another example of South Australia’s love affair with renewables – the state is home to Australia’s largest concentration of wind power capacity and solar panels are a common sight on residential rooftops.
Expected growth in energy consumption in South Australia over the next decade has been lowered; thanks in part to solar PV.
*”Heaps Good” is the slogan for a campaign promoting South Australia.