Solar-powered bus route: introducing renewable energy into a university campus transport system

R. Ioannidis, T. Iliopoulou, C. Iliopoulou, L. Katikas, A. Petsou, M.-E. Merakou, M.-E. Asimomiti, N. Pelekanos, G. Koudouris, P. Dimitriadis, C. Plati, E. Vlahogianni, K. Kepaptsoglou, N. Mamassis, and D. Koutsoyiannis, Solar-powered bus route: introducing renewable energy into a university campus transport system, Advances in Geosciences, 49, doi:10.5194/adgeo-49-215-2019, 2019.

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[English]

We investigate the application of a solar-powered bus route to a small-scale transportation system, as such of a university campus. In particular, we explore the prospect of replacing conventional fossil fuel buses by electric buses powered by solar energy and electricity provided by the central grid. To this end, we employ GIS mapping technology to estimate the solar radiation at the university campus and, accordingly, we investigate three different scenarios for harnessing the available solar power: (1) solar panels installed on the roof of bus stop shelters, (2) solar panels installed at an unused open space in the university, and (3) solar roads, i.e. roads constructed by photovoltaic (PV) materials. For each of the three scenarios, we investigate the optimal technical configuration, the resulting energy generation, as well as the capital cost for application in the case of NTUA campus in Athens (Greece). The preliminary feasibility analysis showcases that all three scenarios contribute to satisfying transportation demand, proportionately to their size, with scenario (2) presenting the lowest capital cost in relation to energy generation. Therefore, we further explore this scenario by simulating its daily operation including the actions of buying and selling energy to the central grid, when there is energy deficit or surplus, respectively. A sensitivity analysis is carried out in order to ascertain the optimal size of the solar panel installation in relation to profit and reliability. Overall, results indicate that, albeit the high capital costs, solar-powered transportation schemes present a viable alternative for replacing conventional buses at the studied location, especially considering conventional PV panels. We note that present results heavily depend on the choice of capacity factors of PV materials, which differ among technologies. Yet, as capacity factors of PV panels are currently increasing, the studied schemes might be more promising in the future.

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Tagged under: Renewable energy, Students' works presented in conferences