E-DEPOT — An online planning tool for e-bus adoption
This is the final article in the two-article series on why planning tools are vital for effective electric-bus deployment — a significant step towards cleaner public mobility. You may read the first part of the series here.
By Spurthi Ravuri.
Last week, NITI Aayog announced the launch of the ‘e-Sawaari India Electric Bus Coalition’, in partnership with Convergence Energy Service Ltd. and World Resources Institute India, with support from Transformative Urban Mobility Initiative. The coalition aims to share knowledge and learnings regarding e-bus adoption in India among various stakeholders, to pace up electrification of bus transport.
Several Indian state transport undertakings (STUs) have undertaken aggressive deployment of electric buses (or e-buses) in their fleet to address the growing concern around fossil-fuel consumption and the resultant pollution. Of the 6,700 e-buses sanctioned under the two phases of the Faster Adoption and Manufacturing of (Hybrid &) Electric Vehicles (FAME) scheme, around 1,000 are already operating on the Indian roads. While the Bangalore Metropolitan Transport Corporation (BMTC) is likely to deploy its first fleet of 90 e-buses this year, many other STUs in cities like Mumbai, Pune, Ahmedabad, and Surat are adding to their existing e-bus fleets.
While at it, most STUs are challenged by the complexity of e-bus operations and hence the obvious need for robust planning. Simulation tools can help them take a pragmatic approach and aid in the efficient planning of e-bus fleet operations, which are dynamic and determined by multiple factors (like network characteristics, e-bus specifications, charging-infrastructure capacity, and financial considerations). Quite a few planning tools are being used around the world today to deal with specific deployment concerns, such as route selection, infrastructure planning, and cost-benefit analysis.
The Center for Study of Science, Technology, and Policy (CSTEP) has developed the ‘E-bus Depot Electrification Planning and Operations Tool’ (or E-DEPOT), to assist STUs in their decisions regarding e-bus deployment. A web-based tool, E-DEPOT would help the STUs in planning the plug-in charging infrastructure at the depots and estimating their expenditure. It would also help the power utilities in understanding the impact of charging on the grid and the need for upgrading the electricity distribution infrastructure appropriately.
How it works
E-DEPOT checks the feasibility of schedules (buses on a specific route) for deploying e-buses, estimates the charging requirements at the depots, assesses the resultant electricity requirements, and estimates the associated costs. As inputs for the analysis, it requires the user to provide the details of the schedules considered for electrification, the e-bus and charger specifications, the depots/locations selected for installing the chargers, and the costs related to e-bus and charger procurement and maintenance.
Based on these inputs, the analysis is performed at three levels — schedule level, depot level, and operations level.
Utility at different levels
Through such multi-level analysis, E-DEPOT helps STUs make sound decisions at all significant stages of the planning process. Each level has specific outputs that can support the planning at that level, as required by the user.
Schedule-level feasibility assessment
At the schedule level, the tool filters the schedules feasible for electrification and indicates the locations where they would undergo overnight charging and intermittent charging (if required). This helps the STU check whether the schedules are in accordance with the deployment plans or require revisions. For schedules that are infeasible, the tool specifies the reason, helping the STU make suitable modifications.
Depot-level power infrastructure assessment
At the depot level, E-DEPOT quantifies the infrastructure requirements at the depot (number of chargers, power demand, energy consumption, cost of electricity, etc.), thus, helping STUs and DISCOMs determine if the existing power distribution infrastructure can support the charging demand.
Operations-level financial assessment
At the operations level, the tool estimates the total capital cost and operational costs, and hence the resultant total cost of ownership. This provides the STU a fair idea of its expected expenditure, helping it assess the economic viability of the proposed deployment plan.
E-DEPOT can simplify electric vehicle adoption by providing fleet owners a platform to compare the viability of various deployment scenarios and plans before making decisions. Further, being generic in nature, the tool can be easily used by other fleet owners that operate vehicles on fixed routes, like school buses, corporate transport vehicles, delivery vehicles, etc.
E-DEPOT can be accessed at https://beta.cstep.in/Evroute-beta/#.
The author works on issues related to urban transport at the Center for Study of Science, Technology and Policy (CSTEP), a research-based think tank.