Today in Europe, 25% of total GHG emissions are linked to transport with 8% of the total emissions produced by buses. Therefore, transport systems like Electric Bus Systems are a way to reduce the emissions and improve quality of transport and living.
The Electric Bus System is a public transportation system that is operated by electric buses only. As every public transportation system, it can include ticketing, information of customers and a monitoring system.
Additionally, facilities to charge the electric buses are mandatory. Due to the charging process, a management system for operation and planning of range as well as route optimisation is even more important than it is with conventional bus systems. (see also SCIS)
Problems to be solved
Bad air quality
Lack of Comfort
In comparison to conventional engines, Electric Bus Systems are free of emissions locally. Moreover, less noise is produced when driving. While the initial costs for purchasing electric buses may be higher, the overall costs of Electric Bus Systems can be lower than the one of other systems depending on the usage.
The main goal of the Electric Bus System is to reduce the local air pollution within cities. Besides that, the solution achieves the benefits listed below. Whereas some benefits are likely to be fulfilled with a basic implementation of the solution, the fulfilment of the potential benefits depends on the functions implemented in a specific project.
Functions help you to understand what the products can do for you and which ones will help you achieve your goals.
Each solution has at least one mandatory function, which is needed to achieve the basic purpose of the solution, and several additional functions, which are features that can be added to provide additional benefits.
Aside from bus systems that do not exclusively use electricity (hybrid systems), there are three main variants for Electric Bus Systems (powered by battery with night-charging, opportunity charging or buses with a fuel cell). Moreover, there can be further differentiation depending on the charging system (plug-in charging, docking), battery types (e.g., Lithium-Ion technology (LFP, NCM/NCA, Li-Titanate)), etc.
(Fraunhofer MOEZ, 2015)
The battery of the bus is charged once a day – usually at night at charging stations in the depot. These buses are suitable for shorter daily distances (ca. 100-200km).
(emcel, 2016, mobil.nrw, 2021)
These buses have a smaller battery that is charged occasionally – mostly at the last stop of every route. They can be used on long daily distances (ca. 300km). Because of the charging process, they normally need longer at the last stop and require close substations. New technologies increase the efficiency of such charging processes, e.g. fast charging or recovery of break energy (e.g., 1MW chargers with 400kW chargers already in place).
(emcel, 2016, mobil.nrw, 2021)
The bus produces the energy for the electric propulsion with its own fuel cell and hydrogen that is carried in a tank. The system suits long daily distances. A hydrogen infrastructure is needed at the depot.
(emcel, 2016, mobil.nrw, 2021)
Additional infrastructure like charging stations or hydrogen infrastructure are needed depending on the variant implemented.
The efficiency and the necessity of Electric Bus Systems are linked to restrictions that are implemented on city or higher political level. Electric Bus Systems are expected to be supported by national and international policy and funding in future.
In general, regulations on emissions are introduced in the sector of buses first, before introducing the regulations for cars. Therefore, a diesel ban in urban areas is expected to be introduced for buses first.
The regulation (EU) 2019/1242 sets CO2 emission standards for heavy-duty vehicles. From 2025 on, manufacturers have to reduce emissions 15% compared to EU average in the reference period (1 July 2019- 30 June 2020). From 2030 onwards, there has to be a 30% reduction.
(European Commission, 2020)
A strong energy grid, which can be used for charging by the electric buses, simplifies the implementation of this solution. Besides this, it is recommended to invest in sustainable and local energy generation to reduce energy costs and increase the environmental benefit of the Electric Bus System. A local smart grid supports balancing loads.
- The EU invests €2.2 billion in 140 key transport projects which also include electric bus projects. The projects will be supported through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) and are part of the efforts to fulfil the European Green Deal.
- Most e-buses which are currently in operation are supported by local governments as a part of a pilot project. In Germany there is a funding program called “Anschaffung von Elektrobussen im öffentlichen Personennahverkehr” that helps to buy or lease buses with electric or hybrid propulsion. The total national funding adds up to €650 million.
(electrive.net, 2020, Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy, 2020, European Commission, 2020)
Stakeholders in electric bus systems (BABLE, 2021)
In 2019, there were about 3.000 electric buses in Europe and the United States, which only represents 1% of all buses. However, a rapid growth is predicted for the next years and is highly driven by legal regulations and government initiatives. Cities like Paris, Moscow or Berlin are planning to purchase hundreds of new electric buses in the upcoming years.
Global municipal e-bus fleet (Consultancy.eu & Bloomberg, 2020)
The number of electric buses in Germany since 2009 shows a huge development and forecasts predict a further rise in electric buses for the future.
Development of electric buses in Germany since 2009 (PwC, 2020)
High investment costs of electric buses in comparison to conventional (diesel) busses can be balanced with lower operational costs and longer lifespans (e.g., image Proterra). Some operators produce their own regenerative energy for the buses. The profitability of e-buses will increase as soon as there are stricter emission regulations or even diesel bans in urban areas. Restrictions are expected to be introduced in various European cities within the next few years.
The graph shows the profitability of the operation of electric buses in comparison to other buses over a lifetime of ten years. The data is obtained out of manufacturer specifications from Proterra, who - as of March 2017 - is one of three e-bus manufacturers providing buses on large scale. According to this calculation, electric buses are cheaper despite higher investment costs since costs for fuel and maintenance are much lower compared to traditional buses.
Comparison of total cost of ownership (Proterra, 2021)
This calculation does not include the infrastructure of charging stations needed which is often the actual challenge. Depending on the technology, the infrastructure can cost a multiple than the implementation costs of the buses. The tendering process should be suitable for an economic construction of the infrastructure. One solution could be that the municipality provides the infrastructure, and the bus operators provide only the buses.
- Directive 2009/33/EG: Clean Vehicles Directive: directive to encourage clean and energy-efficient vehicles (EUR-Lex, 2021)
- Regulation (EU) No 582/2011: update to Directive (EG) no 595/2009, regarding emissions of heavy-duty vehicles (EUR-Lex, 2021)
- VO(EG) 595/2009: on type approval of heavy-duty vehicles (EUR-Lex, 2021)
- UN-R49 regulation: regarding measures against emissions of engines used for transport (EUR-Lex, 2021)
- 2007/46/EG: Regulations on busses in general (EUR-Lex, 2021)
- RL 2001/85/EG (EUR-Lex, 2021) and UN-R66 (EUR-Lex, 2021): Security Regulations for Buses
- UN-R100: Security Regulation for electric vehicles (EUR-Lex, 2021)
- Richtlinie zur Förderung der Anschaffung von Elektrobussen im öffentlichen Personennahverkehr, by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety (beck-online, 2021)
The creation of this solution has been supported by EU funding
CNG powered buses in the city of Tartu
With the aim of having 100% of public transportation buses in Tartu run on gas by 2019, the municipality has purchased 60 new biogas busses for the public transportation network.
Introduction of Electric Public Transport
The City of Turku has introduced new electric buses in the public transport fleet to reach the goal of becoming CO2 neutral by 2029.
Electric and Hybrid Buses for Public Transport
At least six new electric buses were introduced to Madrid’s existing bus fleet and are being tested in real-life conditions in the city’s living lab. The main goal is to use a clean bus fleet in areas which lack high-quality public transport services.
On-call company transport as a flexible and sustainable alternative to company cars
Thanks to digitalisation and optimisation, a total of 14 accessible vehicles have been successfully operating between the Bonn, Darmstadt and Frankfurt sites. Since then, the company transport service has offered Telekom employees a flexible and sustainable alternative to a company car.
Autonomous shuttles and the use of solar energy on the streets of Lamia, Greece
This project was part of the Horizon2020 FABULOS project, where Auve Tech participated together with Mobile Civitatem Consortium. Despite the country's lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our autonomous, electric shuttles covered a total of 1,930km and served 399 end users.
Autonomous shuttle connecting the airport, the shopping centre and Ülemiste City in Tallinn
An autonomous, electric shuttle bus service connected the frequently visited Ülemiste City with the Tallinn International Airport and the Ülemiste shopping center, by extending the existing public transportation network.
Electric bus charging system
The bus charging system contains 5 pantograph fast chargers (350 kW) and 6 GB/T cable chargers (120 kW). Pohjolan Liikenne is oprating in the area with 20 electric buses and is charging those in the charging system. All the electricity is produced using renewable sources.