SUCCESS STORIES

Municipal E-Bus Planner 2 (Munep2)

Munep2 has developed a suite of planning software to aid the transition from diesel to electric bus services by reducing complexity and supporting decision-making. Potential end users include municipal offices, urban developers, transport providers and operators, traffic managers and vehicle manufacturers.

The software simulates and models scenarios around the operational and logistical requirements of bus services – from mileage and technical specifications to timetabling and route planning. The vehicle model outputs the power flow in electric buses to determine energy consumption and the necessary charging infrastructure on different routes. The major innovation is bringing together operation planning with technical models and optimisation algorithms so that the impact of developing particular vehicles, infrastructure and operation schemes of the electric buses becomes transparent.

Key points

  • The European Commission’s low energy mobility strategy aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport by 60 percent on 1990 levels by 2050
  • In cities, many local authorities and bus operators are under pressure to switch from diesel to electric bus services
  • The differences between electric and diesel bus operations is significant, particularly in terms of operations (range, vehicle requirement, operation schemes) and technical specifications (charging needs, battery concept)
  • Munep2 has developed a comprehensive software system that supports planning and decision-making for implementing large and complex electrification scenarios
  • EIT Climate-KIC has played a central part in getting Munep2 off the ground, funding early stage customer research and supporting crucial software development

Project Background and Drivers

The European Commission has recently adopted a low emission mobility strategy with aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transport by 60 percent on 1990 levels by 2050. Low-emission transportation and electric mobility will be the cornerstone of this. In cities, bus providers, transport operators and local authorities are making the switch from diesel to electric bus services.

However, this process is far from straightforward. It requires dramatic changes in operations and planning because there are marked differences between diesel and electric buses. Most public transport operations have been developed around diesel buses, which can run for longer periods without having to recharge, and have ease of refuelling. Electric buses, however, have limited driving range and need to be charged in the garage (“back-to-home” concept) or at the terminal stops of the route (“opportunity charging” concept). This means that without proper planning and optimisation, such as rescheduling the timetabling, or re-planning vehicle schedules, more buses are needed to service routes, or more charging points needed along the way. This creates additional effort: more deadhead, higher driver costs, and a less robust operation. This is compounded by the fact that there are different technologies on the market for electric buses, each bringing different constraints and requiring different operation schemes.

Project Detail

Munep2 has developed a suite of planning software to aid the transition from diesel to electric bus services by reducing complexity and supporting decision-making. Potential end users include municipal offices, urban developers, transport providers and operators, traffic managers and vehicle manufacturers. The software simulates and models scenarios around the operational and logistical requirements of bus services – from mileage and technical specifications to timetabling and operation planning.

The major innovation is bringing together operation planning with technical models and optimisation algorithms so that the impact of the choice of vehicles, infrastructure and operation schemes of the electric buses becomes transparent.

The software, through detailed simulation and scenario calculation, supports decisions relating to the type of energy source (opportunity charging, overnight charging, plug-in hybrids), battery type (choice of technology, sizing), recharging infrastructure, fleet size, load profiles for the components and the electricity network connections, operation strategies and operational planning.

The final output of the software is a scenario with an optimised set of all these parameters leading to the lowest total cost of ownership. But as the basis is a detailed simulation of the entire electric bus operation, it also yields concrete, directly implementable electrification concepts, and supports everyday operation planning. All of these factors are evaluated in terms of impact, cost and potential emissions reductions, enabling comparison with diesel buses.

“It essentially helps evaluate specific configurations of factors to see if they are technically feasible, and at what costs and emissions reductions. It also suggests using different components available on the market. For example, bus manufacturer X might have a spec that fits. We have all this in the database, so that we then can see how products perform,” says Philipp Sinhuber, co-founder of Munep2.

Because of the diverse nature of public transport governance and operations, there is a range of possible end customers for Munep2, says Sinhuber. “It’s different from country to country. In Germany, for example, the employer of electric buses, the bus operator, is owned by the city, the latter taking the initiative to electric buses. In London, Denmark and the Netherlands, there’s a competitive structure. You have the transport authority granting concessions to privately owned bus operators by competitive tender procedures, so the operators need to be very cost efficient. In the rest of the UK, the bus operators operate on an almost purely commercial basis, with very little constraints and subsidies by the transport authority” says Sinhuber. “A lot of cities request feasibility studies for electric buses but with different end goals and needs.”

This diversity of governance and operations makes developing a business model challenging.

As a result, Munep2 is looking at how it can offer services and coordinate with customers of different sizes, each with different numbers of bus routes, bus network size, and energy requirements.

EIT Climate-KIC Support

The Munep approach has been through the Climate-KIC development process since 2010, firstly as a Pathfinder project. Munep 1, as it was called, began at the Institute of Power Electronics and Electrical Drives (ISEA) of RWTH Aachen University, with the aim of scoping out the parameters of a feasible innovation by assembling partners and investigating potential markets.

More recently, Munep2 has evolved into a Demonstration project. EIT Climate-KIC has played a central part in getting the Munep story off the ground. It provided funding for the early stages of the project, which enabled the team to carry out much needed research, contacting potential customers, gathering information on real needs, and developing the software.

“We couldn’t have established the software without EIT Climate-KIC’s help. It’s a complex discipline. The funding was really important in helping us develop our tools, but EIT Climate-KIC has also guided us in networking. Through the network, we came into contact with our first project partner, the Technical University of Delft, with the Birmingham City Council, and with many different supporting partners from the different potential customer groups,” says Sinhuber. Further, the Munep2 project lead, RWTH Aachen ISEA, spun-off a start-up ebusplan to support cities, transport authorities and bus operators in electrifying their bus fleets.

“We have a series of planned improvements for the software and are looking at furthering our work with cities. We are making commitment on the business plan in terms of customers. We want our tool and our services to empower transport authorities and bus operators to overcome the hurdles of electric buses and roll out electric buses in every city,” says Sinhuber.

Munep2’s software aids the transition from diesel to electric bus services by reducing the complexity of technical and operational planning, supporting decision-making.

Philipp Sinhuber, co-founder of Munep2

 

For more information visit ebusplan

 
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