The Islay Wave Bus - the world's first!

Posted by bex — 27 August 2002 at 8:00am - Comments
Islay wave bus: the worlds first electric bus to be powered by wave energy

Islay wave bus: the worlds first electric bus to be powered by wave energy

Update: For more on wave power, have a look at our ocean power page.

What is the Islay Wave Bus?
The Islay Wave Bus is the first electric bus in the world to be powered by wave energy. It is also one of only seven electric buses currently operating in the UK. It was formerly used in demonstration projects in Oxford and on Jersey, and has now been refitted with the most up to date electric vehicle technology for community use on Islay. The bus has been upgraded by C&H Bradbury Ltd for Greenpeace, and will be managed and operated by the Islay Development Company (IDC), and used by local community groups.

What will this bus be used for?
The bus will be used for local transportation needs for local community groups. The groups will have designated drivers, and a local supervisor/ mechanic will be responsible for the maintenance of the bus. The bus will be based at the Morrison Bowmore Distillery, where it will re-charge over night. As a minibus, it can be driven by anyone with a standard driving licence, as long as they have undergone basic training and induction. The capacity is 16 passengers, plus a driver.

Limpet power
Find out how the Limpet works
Watch the animation

How is it wave powered?
The LIMPET wave machine is the only commercially operating wave power station in the UK. Scottish and Southern, the local electricity company, have allocated electricity generated by the LIMPET to the bus operators, to cover the charging needs of the bus.

How much did it cost?
The upgrading, refurbishment and reinstatement of the bus cost £60,000 paid for by Greenpeace. The fuel cost per mile is however substantially less than a diesel bus - around 8p per mile to cover electricity used compared with around 23p for equivalent diesel buses. Argyll and the Islands Enterprise (AIE), the local enterprise company (part of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, the government economic development agency for northern Scotland), is providing financial support towards running costs and maintenance over the next three years.

What are the specifications of this bus?
The bus was built in 1993 by Optare (a leading UK bus manufacturer), based on their Metrorider model, with a DC electric drive system substituted for the normal diesel engine and gearbox. It has recently been converted to run on a new AC drive system, and fitted with new maintenance free lead acid batteries, charging equipment and motor. It has a range of around 40 miles per day, dependent on the gradient of the route, and can reach a maximum speed of about 30mph. The bus weighs 7.5 tonnes, and a full recharge of the batteries takes 10 hours.

What is the environmental impact of this bus?
The Wave Bus doesn't fill up on petrol or diesel, so will emit no exhaust pollution, meaning a minimal local environmental impact. This feature is common to all electric vehicles, but when the electricity used to recharge them comes from a renewable energy source - like the waves, wind or sun, the electricity generating process does not produce carbon dioxide - the main cause of global warming.

For further information on the Wave Bus please contact:

Michael McRae
Islay Development Company
Distillery Road
Port Ellen
PA42 7AH
Tel No: 01496 300010

Colin Bradbury, electric vehicle specialist
C&H Bradbury Ltd
The Shambles
Warwick Road
Chadwick End
West Midlands
Tel: 01564 785 889


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