Designated as T2UES - Sustainable Electric Urban Tourism Transport, the project aims to “promote the electric transport industry powered by renewable energy sources” in the regions of Andalusia and the Algarve, said José Manuel Andújar, a researcher at the University of Huelva, in statements to the agency Lusa.
On the other hand, "it is proposed to encourage the installation of a light, ecological and intra-urban transport network, to mitigate the problems of overpopulation in the summer tourist periods", indicated the academic from Huelva, referring that the idea is "to strengthen the sector tourism” as an economic activity compatible with the environment and at the forefront of sustainable transport.
“These two regions, taken as a whole, are prime tourist destinations, having recorded more than 24 million overnight stays in 2018”, he said.
Co-financed by the Interreg VA Spain-Portugal (POCTEP) cross-border cooperation programme, the T2UES project, in addition to boosting the technological development of a network of electric vehicles, invests in smart and environmentally sustainable charging points to equip the tourist areas of Andalusia and from the Algarve.
Started in January 2018, the cross-border initiative runs until the end of 2021, with a total investment of around 936 thousand Euros, of which 702 thousand Euros are guaranteed by Community funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
According to the researcher at the University of Huelva, the T2UES project includes the design of vehicle prototypes and charging stations, with nine partners, between companies and research and development centres, as well as the collaboration and participation of municipalities and entities interested in implementing a future electric vehicle network.
Asked how many vehicles are expected to be made available in tourist areas on the Andalusian and Algarve coast, José Manuel Andújar said that it is not yet defined, explaining that “the number of vehicles will depend on the specific needs of each area and the business models that develop as part of the exploration project”.
The electric vehicles of the project "have nothing to do with the electric car concept that the automobile brands currently manufacture and sell," he said. These are light vehicles, very easy to use, which do not require a driving license and which are designed for short distances, from urban centres and hotels to the beaches.
From the University of Algarve, researcher Jânio Monteiro explained that T2UES continues the project GARVELAND - Action plan for the promotion of electric mobility in areas of special tourist and environmental interest, in which an intelligent charging station was developed, “trying to use the maximum amount of energy that is generated from renewable sources and minimizing the consumption that comes from the electricity grid”.
With the T2UES initiative, “the objective is to provide a solution for the border areas of the Algarve and Andalusia, where there is great potential in terms of interest in tourism with this type of vehicles”, said Jânio Monteiro.
"At this moment, we will try to use more of the solar potential, which is quite abundant, both in the Algarve region and in the Andalusian region", highlighted the researcher from the University of Algarve, noting that electric vehicles can also be powered by wind energy.
Counting that one of the partners already manufactures electric vehicles, Jânio Monteiro revealed that this partner will adapt the vehicles so that they are compatible with the charging stations and use the energy generated locally, “not using the electricity grid so much, for the sake of also avoiding overload”.
"Within a year and a half, we expect to have the first vehicles to be developed, to be placed on the market, to do the first tests", declared the head of the University of Algarve.
Thus, at the end of 2020, it is expected that the technical specifications of vehicles and charging stations will be ready, as well as the characteristics of the software for the end user.