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Smart data use allows Rotterdam to improve e-charging of buses

4 March 2020

Charging of electric buses will be smarter in the future. That could be a very real-life consequence of a theoretical RUGGEDISED study from Erasmus University of Rotterdam. The study investigates how a public transport operator (PTO) can best power a fleet of sustainable electric buses.

Traditional approaches include battery-swapping in buses, investing in energy storage systems or using the so-called opportunity charging in which buses are charged on layovers during trips. It is the latter system Erasmus University, and their co-author John Collins from the University of Minnesota, wanted to investigate improvements of – and they found them with an extensive analysis of data.

However, using opportunity charging with high charging power adds a substantial load to the electricity grid. Thus, the problem is how to optimize the charging schedule of the electric buses to guarantee a reliable operation without adding too much pressure to the grid at the peak moments.

It is this problem, the study has come up with an answer to, explains Ayman Abdelwahed, PhD candidate at Erasmus University and one of five authors of the new study.

“By investigating the routes, the trip and bus assignment schedules we have shown the value of optimizing the charging process in a way that minimizes the impact on the grid in comparison to some other greedy charging strategies. It will hopefully make the electrification of public transport easier to achieve,” Ayman Abdelwahed says.

In total, the study provided an efficient optimization model that can help cities, public transport operators and smart city developers to strengthen the transit bus networks electrification process in the future, with a minimised extra added pressure on the city-wide power grid.

The results of the study are expected to be put to use in the Heart of South area in the RUGGEDISED Lighthouse City of Rotterdam, where the public transportation company RET provided the data for the study. It is currently being investigated how the results can help implement a highly ambitious rollout of electric buses that is underway.

The study has also been accepted by the prestigious scientific journal Transportation Science and will be shared a different conferences throughout 2020. It has been published with open access and is available on Research Gate.

The authors of the study are Ayman Abdelwahed, Pieter van den Berg, Tobias Brandt, John Collins and Wolf Ketter.