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Brihanmumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST), an Undertaking of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, supplies electricity to the South Mumbai area and provides city bus services within the city's municipal limits. BEST is electrifying its fleet of buses with over 400 buses already in operation and an additional 4700 electric buses are expected to join its fleet by 2024. However, coal still generates around 76% of Mumbai's electricity grid in 2020. E-mobility is an important step in tackling air pollution as vehicles emit harmful pollutants effectively. Reducing the demand on the grid and decarbonizing the energy sector is essential to improve public health. Vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant women and the elderly, and individuals with pre-existing heart and lung disease, are particularly affected.
C40 Cities Finance Facility (CFF) is working with BEST on a landmark initiative to combat this issue. This collaborative project aims to power its growing fleet of e-buses with renewable energy from solar PV installations on all 27 bus depots in Mumbai to decarbonize the grid. The envisaged capacity is around 38 MW, covering around 15% of e-bus charging demand.
The project of the installation of solar PV on the 27 bus depots could*:
This project aims to reduce Mumbai’s severe urban heat. By including solar rooftops over the concrete parking areas in the depots, the project will lower the temperature at the facility and inside the parked buses, improving working conditions for employees. Moreover, as Mumbai has been exposed to increasingly heavy rainfall and tropical cyclones, the solar PV installations at the depots will be fully climate-proofed. Inclusivity and equity will be at the center of this project. BEST already strives to serve the low-income sections of society by providing transport services at affordable fares e.g. a maximum fare of ₹25 (US$ 0.31) regardless of route distance, and a minimum fare of ₹5 (US$ 0.06) for 5km. There are also special seats in buses reserved for women, senior citizens, and disabled people. Furthermore, charging e-buses with renewable energy will result in operational savings, helping, BEST to provide sustainable and affordable transport to all segments of society.
As Mumbai is leading in e-bus deployment in India, this project has the potential to demonstrate a successful example of the integration of renewable energy and electric mobility. This project can make a strong case for solar panels on other types of buildings too – according to a report published by the Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai, the city has the potential to generate close to 1720 MW of solar energy, including 1300 MW from solar rooftops on residential buildings. By using renewable energy to power Mumbai’s e-bus fleet, this project will lead the way in greening India’s transport system. The CFF and BEST are jointly preparing the project for seeking financing from investors.