17.11.2021Meet the fully electric 'Carbon Battle Bus'
Planet Mark’s fully electric ‘Carbon Battle Bus’ has been on the road for three months. In that time, it has travelled all over the UK, as part of the company’s Zero Carbon Tour.
Starting at the Eden Project in June, the Planet Mark team has since been to Northern Ireland, Wales, England and Scotland, all in their 100% electric Yutong coach. So what has happened on the team's long electric journey, and why did they set off on it in the first place?
“I think we were the first nutters to try and take a bus on a full tour of the UK, which we only realised when we started driving down to Cornwall. In three months, we’ve been everywhere and we’ve managed it,” says Andrew Griffiths, Director of Community & Partnerships at Planet Mark.
“Cornwall was our first go at this, and we’ve been travelling all over the country since then. Obviously other electric coaches do exist, but they tend either to operate in a single city, or or they tend to be operating on a closed loop.”
The objective of the Zero Carbon Tour – which Planet Mark is conducting in partnership with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and the United Nations’ Race to Zero campaign – is to “get the net zero message out there and help people do some carbon jargon busting,” according to Griffiths.
“Sustainability certification is at our core,” he says. “We certify organisations for carbon reduction and the creation of social value. We also work in construction, and certify net-zero carbon construction projects and products. Essentially, we support people on their journeys in sustainability.”
The team's own sustainable journey has seen them meet over 7,000 people at a variety of events they have hosted across the country - and seen them visit over 100 locations. "It’s been a wonderful journey,” Griffiths adds.
It’s a journey that has in part been made possible by planning well in advance and factoring in back-up charging options.
“We’ve had to plan very carefully, says Griffiths, "and we have used Zap-Map, religiously, to plan where we were going. If we needed to find alternatives, we could find them very quickly. So one of the most useful things was being able to plan in advance. Being able to filter was crucial as well.”
The bus itself requires a minimum of a 50 kW charger, but the team have aimed for 100 kW+ chargers. There are also certain manufacturers the bus works with and certain manufacturers it doesn’t.
“With the bus, we need to think about voltage, which most electric vehicle owners don’t need to think about,” Griffiths continues. “But because the bus needs a slightly higher voltage, this is why the Tritium chargers don’t work. They look exactly the same as an ABB device when branded as Ionity, but they have a different voltage – and that’s where the incompatibility came from.”
Planet Mark’s Zero Carbon Tour has been full of logistics and practicalities. But it’s also a journey with a clear purpose – to get the net zero message out there.
In all their myriad encounters across the UK, the team have been encouraging people to share their carbon reduction stories. Perhaps someone has switched to an electric vehicle, for example, installed solar panels for their home, or changed to a renewable energy provider.
“Brilliant! Tell people about it,” says Griffiths. “Because when you share your story, that inspires other people to take action and ultimately that gets people to achieve our ultimate call to action, which is – whichever group or organisation you are a part of – to set a credible net-zero commitment.”
The Carbon Battle Bus team are certainly full of stories from their trip, and an enthusiasm that’s there for all to see. But have they achieved their objective of getting the net zero message out there?
“It’s reassured me a great deal personally that stuff is happening – and that’s because I’ve been able to go and hear it. Sharing what’s working is one of the most powerful things we can do to accelerate change,” says Griffiths.
“It’s been a privilege to have this opportunity to travel all over the UK. What’s given me a huge amount of hope is hearing tangible examples of organisations, community groups, schools, universities, hospitals and councils taking action to reduce their carbon footprint.”