Spie Belgium will install 252 new chargers for the Flemish public transport company De Lijn. Spie Belgium is the Belgian subsidiary of the Spie Group, an independent market leader in multi-technical energy and communication services, as it claims.
Last year, De Lijn signed an agreement with Spie Ekoenergetyka, a new entity, and the result of the merger of Spie Belgium and Ekoenergetyka, a Polish company specializing in electric charging infrastructure. The agreement included supplying, commissioning, and maintaining the electric and hybrid bus chargers at De Lijn’s depots.
‘Emission-free by 2035’
After a first – successful – cooperation with Spie last year, De Lijn has ordered a new delivery of 252 additional chargers for its depots in Genk and Destelbergen (Flanders, Belgium). The chargers should be put into operation by 2023-2024.
According to Ann Schoubs, director-general of De Lijn, “providing the necessary charging infrastructure is a crucial step in its ambitious plan to offer fully emission-free public bus transport by 2035”.
Spie Belgium is happy with the new assignment for De Lijn: “This project is in line with our ambition to contribute actively to the energy transition. We’re glad we can help our customers achieve their sustainability goals,” said Hein Dirix, general director at Spie Belgium.
“The scale and implementation of De Lijn’s project require the most innovative charging solutions,” explained Maciej Wojenski, co-founder of Ekoenergetyka Polska SA. “Our advanced technology and solutions will continue to support the development of emission-free public transport at De Lijn.”
It is clear that things are getting serious for De Lijn regarding sustainability. Apart from the additional charging infrastructure, the public bus company focuses on further ‘greening’.
After the refusal of the building and operating permit for a large depot – called Wissenhage – in Ghent-Wondelgem (40 hectares for 40 e-buses), the company is looking for additional forest compensation before submitting a new permit application, taking into account the city’s and residents’ concerns. De Lijn has decided not to appeal against the refusal.
The new depot is crucial for De Lijn to develop sustainable transport in and around Ghent. Furthermore, Wissenhage is intended to become the depot for the electric and hybrid fleet of buses.
In the meantime, the bus company is looking for additional forest compensation, “preferably in Ghent or its surroundings,” explains Frederik Wittock, spokesperson for De Lijn, “but it won’t be easy.”
De Lijn is also working on a detailed plan to optimize and maximize greening and soil softening. According to the Flemish Mobility Minister, Lydia Peeters (Open Vld), “the Wissenhage file is essential for sustainable mobility in and around Ghent. The project has been on the table for more than 15 years. So, it’s about time to realize it.”
Last but not least, De Lijn is looking for an alternative location for the practice and exam center in the city’s surroundings. De Lijn has similar driving schools in every Flemish province. Candidate bus drivers get their driving lessons and take their exams over there.