UC develops intelligent charging model for electric bus fleets

Deepak Gupta July 25, 2022
Updated 2022/07/25 at 6:49 PM

A team of researchers from the University of Coimbra (UC) has developed an intelligent model that optimizes the charging of electric bus fleets by 30 to 40%, reducing operating costs and increasing the battery life cycle.

This is another advance that must be considered in the decarbonization process of public transport and essential for increasing energy efficiency.

Researchers from the University of Coimbra have developed an intelligent model that allows optimizing the charging of electric bus fleets by 30 to 40%, which will reduce operating costs and increase battery life.

The study was published in the journal energy and was carried out at the Institute of Systems and Computer Engineering of Coimbra (INESC Coimbra) of the University of Coimbra and financed by the Foundation for Science and Technology (FCT).

The authors of the model, Jônatas Augusto Manzolli, João Pedro Trovão and Carlos Henggeler Antunes, explain that the decarbonization of public transport is essential for increasing energy efficiency, mitigating climate change and reducing urban pollution. However, there are still many challenges:

There are still challenges to overcome to enable the mass adoption of these vehicles in cities, namely infrastructure and operational limitations. Currently, the electricity grid is not ready for full electrification of public transport. Therefore, it is necessary to find solutions that overcome these obstacles.

Researchers João Pedro Trovão, Carlos Henggeler Antunes and Jônatas Augusto Manzolli.

The model developed by INESC Coimbra researchers proposes a mixed approach considering the sale of energy to the grid through V2G technology (vehicle to grid) and battery degradation.

What distinguishes this model is precisely the fact that it takes into account the degradation of the batteries, emphasize Carlos Henggeler Antunes and João Pedro Trovão, also professors at FCTUC and the Polytechnic Institute of Coimbra, respectively.

Not all vehicles need to be fully loaded

The main novelty of the model is to include a battery aging framework to assess the degradation costs, which allows increasing the life cycle of batteries, which are currently still expensive.

Not all vehicles need to be fully loaded to operate daily. This aspect is relevant as it reduces the total cost of charging and plays a role in improving the life cycle of batteries.

To evaluate the effectiveness of the model developed, the researchers carried out a case study using real data from the fleet of electric minibuses that circulate in the city of Coimbra, known as “slippers”. Several analyzes were carried out to understand how the model would operate optimally in fleet management.

Real tests on the city's electric minibus fleets

The results obtained show that, comparing the worst possible scenario – for example, loading the fleet at the time when energy is more expensive, loading all the buses at the same time, that is, without any kind of coordination – with the developed model, an improvement of between 30 and 40% was achieved, a very high percentage, showing that, if the loading is coordinated, the cost reduction is very significant.

The team also carried out sensitivity analysis tests to evaluate the possibilities of energy commercialization with the electricity grid, having verified that it would not be advantageous currently, but in the near future it could be economically profitable.

The researchers explain that the system assesses the «possibilities of energy transactions with the grid considering scenarios of battery replacement price and electricity price variations. Looking at battery degradation and energy sales, our study indicates that by 2030, operating costs could be 38% lower. Therefore, the approach presented in this work provides a tool that can be used by public transport operators to assist in decision making regarding the electrification of bus fleets».

The next phase of the investigation will focus on developing a more detailed version of the optimization model, allowing a prediction in minutes, to respond, for example, when an accident occurs and requires a reorganization of the entire fleet and its loading. . Titled “Electric Bus Coordinated Charging Strategy Considering V2G And Battery Degradation”, the scientific article can be consulted: here.

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