ABB announced an electric mobility plan and infrastructure for the Swiss city of Davos. Its 6,000 stations installed in more than 50 countries are now also going to be used in the city at the same time the World Economic Forum (WEF) is being held.
Fast-charging The World Economic Forum Meeting At Davos
The quaint Swiss city of Davos is a quiet picturesque Alpine resort for most of the year. And then a storm brews up. The city hosts the famous WEF event, a place where the future of global politics and policies are decided by a few international politicians and key figures. And now Davos is furthering its electric mobility (e-mobility) strategy with Swiss international company ABB.
According to an ABB press release, this year’s annual WEF, held right now from January 23rd to the 26th in the city of Davos, will see ABB’s long-term electric infrastructure applied to its public and private transportation with the company’s TOSA electric buses (e-bus). Those e-buses are already in use in Geneva on its airport route, and are estimated to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 1,000 tons annually. The e-bus also won the contract for the French city of Nantes and will soon be implemented there. The TOSA e-bus was jointly developed in Switzerland by ABB in partnership with Transport Publics Genevois (tpg), the Office de Promotion of Industries et des Technologies (OPI), the Services Industriels de Genève (SIG), with the bus manufacturer Carrosserie HESS.
The e-buses can recharge in 20 seconds as passengers board and disembark. They will operate in Davos on its Line 1, bringing passengers to the tourist center and the hospital. The city will use 8 charging stations in Davos.
Electric Transportation In The Swiss Alps
The Swiss Alps has a rich history of electric transportation that dates back to the turn of last century. Swiss and French trains have tackled the steep hills of the Gottardo line with regenerative braking for close to a century. Sub-stations along the mountain recoup the energy generated by trains coming down, which is used again through the catenary system by trains going up the Swiss Alps.
As CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer says: “The shift to electric vehicles (EV) is no longer a question of if, but rather of when and how quickly. EVs are becoming increasingly attractive to motorists. As well as being ecologically responsible, they’re becoming less expensive to buy and maintain.” We would say, EVs are less expensive to maintain because there is close to nothing to maintain — at least, mechanically.
There are a few angles to this story. Historically, the Davos yearly WEF has attracted a lot of controversies. Media outlets have accused the event of being secretive, a behind closed doors deal-making event, away from public and media scrutiny. Although Switzerland is also known for its banking discretion, it is also very pragmatic in anything it undertakes. Davos wants the world to see that it is a modern and forward-looking city by adopting e-mobility.
This is the first time the ABB TOSA e-bus technology is used in this region. The data collected running the system under the extreme winter conditions will help further refine ABB’s platform.
Conclusion and Final Thoughts on ABB’s Electrification of Davos
ABB has launched a campaign affirming its e-mobility global role, even in India. Its TOSA e-bus platform received the prestigious “Watt d’Or 2018” in the energy efficient mobility category from the Swiss Federal Office of Energy. It also recently announced its partnership with Formula E and is active with ocean-going e-mobility tankers, as well as freighters and passenger ships. Their ABB Azipod e-mobility systems already power vessels with steerable electric-drive propellers for high maneuverability. The company estimates it can reduce their need for onboard fossil fuels by 40 percent or more.
The company is well diversified,and provided its ABB motors for the world’s steepest funicular cable railway in the Swiss village of Stoos. Its total output of 2.3 MW carries up to 1,500 people per hour over its 1.7-kilometer route. The company also provided its motors on a new record-setting gondola system carrying 580 passengers an hour to the Zugspitze, Germany’s highest peak. Lastly, ABB provides the traction transformer and converter on the Rhaetian Railway between Landquart and Davos.
It’s too bad the company has not revealed more about the battery technology and capacity it is using. We can only assume it using its ultracapacitors (ultracap) for the Davos route. Ultracaps are great for short routes as they can be charged very quickly. But the problem is that they don’t hold their energy very long, making them a tough technology for longer range. We reached out to the company and are awaiting its answer.
ABB has been around for a while now, and has made an impact in the world of e-mobility. It’s interesting to see that the Davos World Economic Forum, where global decisions are made affecting every part of our lives, is now moving into electrifying its transportation further.
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