A simple method for sizing and estimating the performance of PV systems in trolleybus grids

Ibrahim Diab*, Alice Saffirio, Gautham Ram Chandra-Mouli, Pavol Bauer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
61 Downloads (Pure)


Solar PV systems have so far been the source of choice for the sustainable supply of urban electric transport networks—like trams and trolleybus grids. However, no consensus exists yet on the placement or sizing of PV systems at the traction substations, and no method is available for easy estimation of the PV system utilization performance. The latter is crucial for understanding the need for storage, grid exchange, or even power curtailment, and has therefore a direct impact on the technical and financial feasibility of the project. This paper looks at 11 Key Performance Indicators (KPI) that are available to trolleybus operators, in two PV case studies on Arnhem (NL) and Gdynia (PL), using verified and validated bus, grid, and PV models. Through one KPI, namely the here-defined Energy Traffic KPI, a strong trend (R2=0.93) is described that can now allow stakeholders a quick estimation of the PV potential using a simple third-degree polynomial instead of resorting to the complex grid, bus, and PV modelling. A simple placement and sizing method is also presented derived from this KPI, in a way as to increase the technical and economical feasibility of an installed PV system. Despite all efforts, stakeholders are still warned of an intrinsic, upper-performance plateau that exists in transport grids, at around 38% direct PV utilization, caused by the unavoidable mismatch between PV generation and vehicle timetables and schedules. Stakeholders are urged to implement more smart grid loads as a base load to increase the feasibility of their investments in renewables, and to transform the transportation systems thereby to multi-functional grids that can assist the main city grid.

Original languageEnglish
Article number135623
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • DC systems
  • Electrical transportation
  • Public transport
  • PV systems
  • Regenerative braking
  • Trolleybus


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