Seychelles accelerates electric mobility |04 November 2022
● Plans to introduce e-buses in SPTC fleet
Seychelles yesterday officially launched its Electric Mobility Project, aimed at preparing the country for the creation of a National Electric Mobility strategy, to build local capacity and combine it with on ground experience of e-mobility transformation through the introduction of electric buses.
The project was launched by Minister for Transport, Antony Derjacques, in a ceremony at the STC conference room, which was attended by high government officials and local partners, as well as representatives of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and Global Environment Facility (GEF) who were following online.
The main objective is to mitigate Green House Gas (GHG) emissions by accelerating the shift to electric mobility.
It is estimated that Seychelles contributes a minimal margin of about 0.002% to global greenhouse gas emissions.
In his speech to officially launch the project, Minister Derjacques said the archipelago is nevertheless vulnerable to global climate change and pollutant emissions from transport, which are significantly reducing air quality.
He said about 95% of the country’s emissions of carbon dioxide are from fuel combustion both to produce electricity and for transportation and they are therefore priority for emission reduction.
Minister Derjacques added that Seychelles’ dependence on fuel imports also has great economic implications with fluctuations in international oil prices directly impacting the gross domestic product (GDP).
It was therefore paramount that the country switches to low carbon transport strategies, not only to reduce air pollution and GHG emissions but for sustainability reasons.
He added that Seychelles has identified the need to maintain a high infiltration of public transport, work towards fuel efficiency and bio fuels import regulations and move towards electric vehicles. According to him, these have the potential to reduce oil imports for transport purposes by 15% to 30% by 2030, with 30% of private vehicles being electric and 15.8 MW of solar PV to meet the energy demand of electric vehicles.
“The Seychelles Electric Mobility Project is working towards both targets, hence supporting the government to accelerate the introduction of electric mobility and linking the use of renewable power, for electric vehicle (EV) charging,” said Minister Derjacques.
The four-year project started in January this year and is being implemented with the support of GEF and UNEP.
According to Elvis Octave, who is UNEP’s chief technical advisor for Electric Mobility Seychelles, for the first part of the project, they are setting up the stage for the pilot project which will include the introduction of e-buses into the fleet of the Seychelles Public Transport Corporation (SPTC).
Speaking to local media, Mr Octave said electric vehicles are already present in Seychelles but the country should now accelerate the process, both through public transport and private vehicles to mitigate the impact of GHG emissions.
“The private sector is importing electric cars for years now but this is not being done under a proper framework, but rather though various agencies. We are now going to work with the private sector to set these standards, for example the type of transport they can import, and the best one for the island because we do want to ensure sustainability when it comes to e-vehicles as well,” said Mr Octave.
He further added that the project will also look at various schemes for the proper use of batteries, including recycling and their disposal, to ensure it does not become another environment hazard.
For its part, the SPTC has welcomed the introduction of electric buses in its fleet which it said will facilitate the shift from diesel and establish adequate financial and business models that will allow SPTC electric buses at reasonable costs.
The company presently operates a fleet of over 200 diesel buses, and according to its chief operating officer, Jeffy Zialor, one of the greatest challenges it faces is the replacement of the bus fleet, lowering the average age with the aim of reducing annual operation costs.
Mr Zialor said SPTC fleet replacement policy specifies that only buses of up to 12 years are kept in active service, but some buses are up to 15 years old and could be associated with higher operation costs and they are highly pollutive.
He added that fuel consumption of the bus fleet continues to increase over the years, averaging to over 250,000 litres per month.
“The use of e-buses would significantly reduce expenditures on diesel fuel, and hence also reduce the amount of fuel subsidy expenditures. This would also create an incentive to use the remaining diesel buses more efficiently, example through training drivers to drive more fuel economical,” he said.
The next step will be the electric bus feasibility study to test the ideal routes for the bus based on daily distance travelled, frequency of service, number of passengers, stops, elevation change, road conditions, seating capacity, in line with electric motor power specifications, battery capacity, and charging scheme.
During yesterday’s session, there were also presentations by other stakeholders, namely the department of environment and the Seychelles Motor Vehicle Dealers Association, whose members are already importing electric vehicles.