One of the main roadblocks to widespread electric buses is the charging of their batteries. Charging an electric battery takes substantially longer than filling up a petrol tank: 30-60 minutes with a fast charger, up to hours with a slow one. The drawback of fast chargers is that they are more costly and that it only takes a few of them to generate a substantial load on the current grid. This means that, compared to petrol buses, some changes might need to be introduced in how electric buses are operated. Not only is the charging of electric buses during the day a challenge, but charging buses at night may not be a "net zero" solution, as PV generators would be offline. On the positive side, the combined battery formed by the fleet of buses may generate revenue if it can be used to feed the grid for a profit through vehicle-to-grid (V2G) and virtual power plant (VPP).
The goal of this project is to develop an optimisation approach to identify a cost-effective solution to the investment and operational problem of a fleet of buses and their charging stations. Solutions may involve
- more sophisticated allocation of buses to trips or increasing the size of the fleet, in order to allow for longer charging times;
- installing batteries at charging stations to reduce the draw on the grid,
- modelling the effectiveness of novel energy sources for buses to increase their autonomy,
- investing in faster chargers to reduce the size of the fleet and take advantage of prices when they are low, etc.
Optimisation: modelling and solving combinatorial optimisation problems (for example using MIP solvers).