What is BEST-CT?
A strong commitment to modernizing and making public transport more sustainable is at the core of the priority activities of AMTS CATANIA. As part of their strategic plan, they have started a series of initiatives including the renovation of the bus depot and the electrification of the bus fleet. Moreover, they are considering some other innovative solutions, as the CNG (compressed natural gas) vehicles and hydrogen vehicles, with hydrogen generated from renewable energy sources.
Therefore, BEST-CT project involves different actions to increase the energy performance in operating urban bus transport in the city of Catania. The aim of the project is to renovate the main bus depot, which includes rooftop PV, PV shelters for buses and service cars, empowering electrical cabins and stations and re-lamping. Also, the bus fleet will be enhanced with electric engine and batteries, together with 23 slow charging stations (80kW each) and 3 fast charging stations (250 kW each).
Transitioning to sustainable transport in Catania presents several challenges that need to be addressed for the successful implementation of the project. One significant difficulty is managing the electric vehicle fleet’s limited autonomy in comparison to combustion engine vehicles. As a result, it is expected that the vehicle will have to be replaced during the journey in order to recharge it, which will therefore entail a need for additional vehicles in the fleet. Catania’s uneven orography is another difficulty, and more challenges are expected with the future hydrogen project, especially for the availability of funding from the national recovery plan (PNRR).
Nevertheless, the project presents high replicability for the main transport companies in Sicily and in other islands, especially at the Italian level in metropolitan cities. Palermo and Messina are potential recipients of fleet funds, they have identified the need for such investments, but they are not as far ahead in the process of establishing the required infrastructure. On the mainland, Milan and Turin are further ahead in their pursuit of sustainable funding and they are leading the way in this transition.
BEST-CT: Sustainable public transportation system
In alignment with the climate change mitigation action plan part of the Paris Agreement of 2015, the Italian green mobility sector is growing.
The city of Catania is leading a project aiming at increasing energy sustainability levels and decreasing energy consumption in operating urban bus transport. The whole public transportation system is going to be modernised by the mean of joint measures leading to a more sustainable public transportation service.
Among the measures put in place are the already mentioned renovation of the main bus depot and a bus fleet enhancement with electric engine and batteries, together with charging stations. Moreover, the design of the charging facilities was the focus of NESOI technical assistance.
The citizens of Catania will directly benefit from the effects of this project. These benefits will include better transport means in terms of air pollution, noise comfort, and improved urban environment with less environmental impact related to the public transportation. The extension of the project leading to a larger bus fleet and stations is already planned.
Expected environmental impacts
The expected yearly production of the photovoltaic plant is 1.4 Million kWh, equal to 467.5 toe of saved energy (coefficient 0.187 toe/MWh). Electric renovation will imply a 250.000 kWk saving, equal to 46.8 toe. These savings are going to compensate the increase due to electric buses (with reference to diesel ones), which is expected to be 54.7 toe. The total net energy savings is equal to 263 toe per year.
How does NESOI support this project?
The European Islands Facility (NESOI) aims to unlock the potential of EU islands to become the locomotives of the European Energy Transition. To do so, NESOI aims to mobilize more than €100 Million of investment in sustainable energy projects to give EU islands the opportunity to implement energy technologies and innovative approaches, in a cost-competitive way.
More specifically, NESOI has provided the following support to the project:
- Assessment of the key project sizing drivers
- Identification of suitable technological options given existing project sizing requirements
- Definition of the required environmental permitting procedures
- Cost benefit analysis and socio economic and environmental impact evaluation
- Definition of the technical, economic and financial, fiscal project inputs
- Risk analysis and identification of available mitigation strategies
- Assessment of existing procurement options (e.g. tender, PPP, etc.)
- Financial modelling and identification of target scenario and identification of financing/funding options
- Action plan and identification of project monitoring procedures