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Electrification of public transport in cities

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ELIPTIC (Electrification of public transport in cities)

Reporting period: 2016-12-01 to 2018-05-31

Public transport is a backbone of sustainable mobility strategies and plays a major role for further increasing accessibility, tackling climate change as well as reducing local noise and air pollutant emissions. Cities in Europe are increasingly concerned in reducing emissions from transportation, and are focusing their incentives away from fossil fuels (with diesel in the crosshair) and towards electric solutions free of (local) emissions. While the wider take-up if electric mobility solutions seems within reach, however, key issues must be sorted out to ensure its viability, from which energy infrastructure, power availability, energy storage solutions, and economic incentives are just a few. Furthermore, there is a need to reduce energy consumption, emissions and congestion and to solve space problems at the local level while at the same time tackling increasing transport volumes.

Against this background, ELIPTIC evaluated various approaches and technologies for electrifying public transport and demonstrated that the further take-up of electric vehicles can be done in a cost-efficient way by integrating multi-purpose charging into existing public transport infrastructures. ELIPTIC - Electrification of public transport in cities was a research and innovation Horizon 2020 project and a member of the CIVITAS initiative for clean urban transport running between 2015 and 2018. The consortium consisted of 33 partners from 8 different EU countries representing different sectors such as cities, manufacturers, research institutes, associations and public transport companies. ELIPTIC received funding of 5.9 million € through which it was able to realize 20 different use cases in the form of both practical operation and feasibility studies.

ELIPTIC worked across the three thematic technical pillars to foster the further electrification of urban public transport by optimising the use of existing electric infrastructure:
A) Safe integration of electric buses using existing electric PT infrastructure
B) Innovative energy storage systems to increase operational efficiency
C) Multi –purpose use of electric PT infrastructure
ELIPTIC developed take-up support materials that can help public transport operators and authorities in the introduction of electric mobility measures in their cities. Results from the ELIPTIC use cases were incorporated into the E-Bus Decision Support Tool which enables the comparison of ELIPTIC use cases to local circumstances. The tool allows interested public transport authorities and operators to compare their own local parameters (e.g. city size, (electric) fleet, infrastructure etc.) to the 150 use cases from ELIPTIC and other EU projects. This will help public transport operators to find the best strategy options for their transition to a fully clean fleet, and to determine which technology is appropriate in their respective situation based on their operational profiles and specific city contexts. In addition to the E-Bus Decision Support Tool, an ELIPTIC Learning Platform is available offering the three webinars that were carried out over the course of the project as well as other resources that provide valuable guidance.

A main achievement of the ELIPTIC project was the, so called, ELIPTIC Factor 100 campaign which was a huge political success. ELIPTIC raised awareness for the promotion of electric public transport with e-buses by developing the Factor 100 Campaign to draw attention on the fact that the electrification of one public transport bus (articulated, 18m) has similar environmental effects as the electrification of 100 cars. The Bremen initiative was successful in that the call for a volume of 50 million € for the starting phase of 2018 and 100 Million € annually for the following years was put into action. With this funding program about 500 e-buses can get into operation per year – being an annual equivalent in terms of impacts to 50,000 e-cars.
First-of-its-kind solutions and innovations were tested and demonstrated within ELIPTIC that can strengthen the competitiveness and growth of companies in Europe. Public transport operators and authorities have gained valuable knowledge within ELIPTIC through feasibility studies and demonstrations of electrifying public transport in their cities. The ELIPTIC partners Barcelona and Bremen tested and demonstrated 18m electric battery buses providing valuable data and experiences for the electrification of high-capacity buses, as these cities are among the first in Europe to demonstrate electric bus services with 18m battery buses. These ELIPTIC use cases provided performance data for both charging concepts: overnight charging in Bremen and opportunity Barcelona charging as well as a combined approach using metro power for charging during night time in Barcelona. TMB Barcelona has now decided to purchase 22x 18m electric buses resulting from the positive experiences made within the project.

The topic of multi-purpose use of infrastructure for the charging of non-rail-bound vehicles was tested and demonstrated for the first time on such a wide scale. Overlapping the public transport network map with the map of on and off-street parking lot locations allows to identify the most economically feasible parking spaces that could be connected to the public transport energy system. It was ELIPTIC’s objective to better understand what the restrictions of connecting both systems and narrowing down the possible locations to the ones that are feasible in terms of connectivity are. There are many places around existing grids with spare capacities that could deliver sufficient power to support significant EV charging infrastructure. However, this is only one part of the story as the viability of the supply is equally dependent on geographic and accessibility factors.

All public transport operators that have been involved in ELIPTIC have ambitious plans to continue on their way towards full electrification of their fleets. In Warsaw there will already be more than 30 electric buses in operation in 2018. In the years 2019-2020 MZA (Warsaw) plans to purchase a further 130 articulated electric buses, thus making it one of the biggest electric bus fleets in Europe.

Results from the ELIPTIC project show that using the public transport grid as a source of electricity to charge other electric vehicles can be the most economic option being often significantly cheaper than using electricity from the public grid. Results also show that the multi-purpose use of public transport infrastructure is technically feasible and was demonstrated successfully in several ELIPTIC cities such as in London, Barcelona and Oberhausen. However, one of the main barriers to implement ELIPTIC’s use cases in Pillar C were unsolved legal issues to use (subsidised) energy from the tram/metro/trolleybus power grids to charge other e-vehicles – in particular private vehicles, but also electric buses.

The automated wiring technology is promising as it will make trolley-battery-hybrid bus systems even more flexible being able to connect to the wires at any spot in the trolleybus network for charge-in-motion concepts. The results within ELIPTIC showed that the current systems are able to wire automatically to the catenary when the bus does not move, however, they are not able to handle the wiring when driving. Thus, first demonstrations were possible but the topic needs further experimenting and testing.