Electric refuse trucks on trial in Greenwich

31st March 2017
Joe Bush

A 26 tonne electric refuse vehicle is on trial in Greenwich after the Royal Borough of Greenwich secured funding from Innovate UK as part of a consortium. The project comes from a bid as part of an open competition called the Low Emission Freight and Logistics Trial – Stream 2, funded by Innovate UK and the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV). The technology will be developed by Magtec, a company that designs and manufactures electric drive systems and components for a range of vehicle types.

The 26 tonne Refuse Collection Vehicle (RCV) will be fitted with a newly developed configuration of electric drivetrain and electric hydraulic actuators for the compressor and bin lifts. The batteries will deliver a full double shift without the need to recharge during the day. The new technology means that the vehicle will have zero emissions.

Councillor Danny Thorpe, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Sustainability, said: “This venture aligns our desire to improve air quality with our innovative work on Smart Cities. I am delighted to be working with Magtec and Innovate UK on this ground breaking project.

“Improving air quality is a key priority for the council. This successful bid builds on our growing reputation as one of the UK’s leaders in smart city innovation as a means of tackling the challenges we face in our ever expanding cities - challenges such as poor air quality. The trial has incredible significance in terms of developing and using new technology to help us all tackle the cleaner-air agenda – a central objective in our Greener Greenwich Strategy. If the trial is successful, I hope Greenwich will be one of the first authorities to introduce electric refuse vehicles across the council fleet.”

Transport Minister, John Hayes, said: “Each one of these successful projects will help cut vehicle emissions, improving air quality and reducing pollution in towns and cities. This is yet another important step towards this government’s commitment to reduce carbon emissions from transport to help tackle climate change. We are already making headway through our investment in low emission vehicles, greener public transport and walking and cycling, as well as grants for innovative advanced biofuels projects.”

Programme Manager, Simon Buckley, from Magtec said: “We are delighted to be working with the Royal Borough of Greenwich to repower its fleet of refuse vehicles from diesel to electric. Greenwich is an innovative and ‘smart council’ and this project will be used as a showcase across the UK. The refuse vehicle is a perfect example of a vehicle that should be electrified as it has a known duty cycle and runs in residential areas where people are most at risk from air quality and noise pollution issues. The vehicles will also offer significant fuel and monetary savings to the operator.”

The vehicle will be taken off the fleet in May 2017 and be back around December 2017 for the start of trials on full duty in early 2018. The truck will be powered by a standard 3-phase 32A, so no special charge station is needed.

The Council’s Street Services team operates zonal household waste collections which will result in the vehicle being operated borough-wide over the course of each week of the trial. The vehicle will be allocated to a weekly collection in areas of the borough where air pollution levels are highest, including part of the new Low Emission Neighbourhood in west Greenwich.

Zero carbon refuse collection vehicles will reduce emissions and noise during operation. This research project accelerates market availability by developing the specialist hydraulics systems and combining them with battery packs previously only used on electric buses.

If the retro-fit version is successful, it is expected to influence vehicle manufacturers to produce brand new fully electric vehicles within three years. Subject to pricing and performance, the council aims to be ready to procure such vehicles in 2020. The project reinforces links with the Council’s project work in the European Smart City Demonstrator and will also complement the Low Emission Neighbourhood Initiative.

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