How can public transport operators best power a fleet of sustainable electric buses?
For zero-emission electric buses to become a realistic alternative to conventional diesel models on a large scale, operators need to ensure they can be charged cost-effectively and without disruption to services or excessive strain on the local electricity infrastructure.
Traditional approaches include swapping batteries in the buses, investing in energy storage systems or using so-called opportunity charging in which buses are charged on layovers during trips.
However, using opportunity charging with high charging power adds a substantial load to the electricity grid.
As part of the EU-funded Ruggedised project, researchers in the Netherlands investigated how to optimise the charging schedule of electric buses to guarantee a reliable operation without adding too much pressure to the grid at peak times.
They analysed data from Rotterdam public transport company RET to solve this conundrum, explained Ayman Abdelwahed, PhD candidate at Erasmus University and one of five authors of the study.
“By investigating the routes, the trip and bus assignment schedules we have shown the value of optimising the charging process in a way that minimises the impact on the grid in comparison to some other greedy charging strategies,” Abdelwahed said. “It will hopefully make the electrification of public transport easier to achieve.”
The findings, published in the the journal Transportation Science, provide an efficient optimisation model to help cities, public transport operators and smart city developers strengthen the electrification process of bus networks, with minimised added pressure on the city-wide power grid.
Authorities in Rotterdam are currently looking at how the results can be used to help implement the rollout of electric buses in the city.
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