Report on urban e-mobility to reduce smog

The key to ridding our cities of smog

A report by the Enel Foundation and Navigant shows that electrifying public transportation can cut air pollution

Published on FEBRUARY 28, 2020
The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that seven million people die each year as the result of atmospheric pollution and that over 80% of the population living in urban areas are exposed to pollution levels that exceed the limits laid down in its guidelines. According to the UN, by 2050, 68% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas that, although they only account for a mere 3% of the earth’s surface, consume two thirds of the world’s total energy requirements and are responsible for around 70% of CO2 emissions (a quarter of which are caused by directly by road transport, a fact confirmed by the International Energy Agency). In other words, it is easy to see why the decarbonisation of
urban transport systems has become a priority.

The electrification of Public transport

Pollution, respiratory illnesses, congested cities: Enel X has shown how the electrification of public transport can be a possible solution to all those problems and has been responsible for three of the largest and most innovative such projects in the world in Santiago in Chile, Lima and Bogotá. 
These projects are also the central focus of the report “Sustainable Urban Mobility: A Global Perspective on The Future of Electric Public Transportation” compiled by Navigant with scientific input from the Enel Foundation.

What the report says

The report aims to act as a tool for urban planners, researchers and decision-makers that have to deal with the problem of decarbonising transport in the world’s large urban areas. Using a series of case studies as its starting point, the study analyses the impact and benefits of the electrification of public transport on cities and their inhabitants. Electric public transport has proven to be the most efficient way of helping large numbers of people move around cities, thereby reducing traffic congestion, pollution, travel times and the cost of getting to work to a minimum.
It is even more efficient when administrations also promote the use of electric transport systems (car sharing, scooters, bikes and electric scooters) for last-mile mobility i.e. the final stretch of a journey that isn’t covered by public transport, and create areas in which the transit of internal combustion engine-powered vehicles is either limited or banned altogether.

The example of Santiago in Chile

Santiago is an excellent example: the Chilean capital is one of the most polluted cities in South America but has adopted a decarbonisation plan that will see the electric vehicle fleet (cars, taxis, lorries, bicycles) on its streets grow tenfold by 2022, thanks in part to Enel X’s involvement. The plan will also see all public transport electrified by 2050. After an initial pilot project with two eBuses proved successful in 2016, our company won the city’s public transport authority Metbus’s tender to supply an initial 100 eBuses which would then be followed by a further 183, bringing the electric bus fleet up to 285, making it not just South America’s largest but also one of the biggest in the world. 
The buses are powered by 100% renewable energy supplied by Enel in two completely electric bus termini designed, built and managed in Santiago by Enel X. Our cutting-edge charging systems, which can monitor and optimise consumption in real time, are used to charge the eBuses. The result is a 40% reduction in energy consumption peaks with a 50% saving on cost, zero emissions and a high standard of approval from locals. This successful decarbonisation policy also encouraged the authorities in Lima and Bogotá to turn to Enel X for their new public transport systems.

A growing market

The electric bus public transport system will grow still further in coming years. The IEA estimates that there are around 460,000 electric busses in the world today with most fleets located in China. According to the report, the percentage of eBuses in cities should be as high as 80% by 2030, with significant benefits for the environment, economy and health. 


 In Italy alone, the gradual reduction in exhaust gas emissions from cars by 2030 will result in an overall saving of 10.5 billion euro in terms of improved productivity, a reduced burden on the healthcare system, and lives saved. 

 Electric Public Transportation

Electric Public Transportation

Zero-emissions mobility for sustainable cities

Big mobile batteries!

That said, the electrification of the public transport system will also prove pivotal to reducing C0emissions on another front. EBuses are actually giant batteries on wheels which, because of the highly-structured way they are used (with fixed timetables and set routes), can also increase the amount of clean energy fed into the grid, thanks to smart charging systems like those developed by Enel X. As they charge overnight, for instance, eBuses can use excess energy from renewable sources that would otherwise go to waste, thereby contributing to improving the flexibility and stability of the grid, with substantial knock-on environmental and economic benefits to boot.

These are just some examples of how the development of e-mobility being driven by Enel X is helping to create cities that are increasingly efficientdynamicsustainable and human-sized!


Download the report “Sustainable Urban Mobility: A Global Perspective on The Future of Electric Public Transportation