New concession bidding process could help soot-free and zero-emission buses in Campinas

(Post in Portuguese)

The city of Campinas, Brazil, is establishing new contracts for public transportation service in the city. Like many Brazilian cities, Campinas delegates operation of its public transit system to private companies via concessions. The most recent bidding for these operating concessions was launched in March 2018. The formation of a Special Bidding Commission in January 2019 indicates that a public tender should be expected soon.

The concession bidding process offers Campinas the opportunity to form a long-term strategy to renew its public transit bus fleet with cleaner and more efficient technologies. Today, nearly all of the more than 1,000 buses in the city’s fleet are powered by diesel engines that lack best-available technologies to control emissions of harmful air pollutants like particulate matter (PM) and nitrogen oxides (NOx). Campinas has taken a number of steps towards renewing its fleet with cleaner technologies. Zero-emission battery-electric buses have been in operation in the city since 2015, and Campinas now has 13 electric buses. The zero-emission fleet is expected to expand considerably with the implementation of the new network, which creates a three square-kilometer low-emission zone in central Campinas where only zero-emission electric buses will be allowed to operate. The city administration has announced that 250 electric buses will be procured to provide service in this area and along newly established BRT lines. To support these commitments, the city, with technical support from BYD Brasil and CPFL Energia, will be developing an electric mobility model for public transportation in Campinas.

These are all positive steps. If the announced program is implemented, zero-emission electric buses will account for about 20% of the public transit buses operating in Campinas. While the actions taken to date are important, the concession bidding process offers an opportunity to formalize these commitments. Furthermore, this is also an opportunity for Campinas to look beyond the near-term procurement needs for the low-emission zone and BRT lines and to consider a broader long-term vision for the entire fleet.

For an example of how commitments can be incorporated into the concession bidding process, Campinas can look to its southern neighbor, São Paulo. Since December 2017, São Paulo has been conducting a similar renewal of its public transit concessions. The recently closed São Paulo concession bidding tender included schedules for the reduction of tailpipe PM, NOx, and CO2 emissions that transit bus operators will be required to adhere to. These schedules reflect 10-year and 20-year emissions reduction targets established in Law 16.802, an amendment to the city’s Climate Change Law passed in January 2018. We developed a model to look at the level of technology transition that will be required in São Paulo to meet these requirements and found that transit operators will need to procure buses meeting PROCONVE P-8 emission standards in advance of the national implementation of these standards in 2023 and rapidly scale up procurement of fossil fuel free technologies and fuels.

So, what would it look like if Campinas were to follow São Paulo’s example and include emissions reductions schedules for operators in concession contracts? We applied our transit bus emissions model to investigate how different long-term procurement scenarios could affect emissions from the Campinas fleet. The four scenarios we modeled cover a range of possible outcomes for the Campinas fleet, summarized in this table:

Procurement scenario Description
Business-as-usual (BAU)  New buses powered by diesel engines certified to national PROCONVE standards prevailing in the year of purchase—P-7 through 2022 and P-8 from 2023 onwards
Early P-8 procurement  New buses powered by diesel engines; early P-8 procurement beginning in 2020
Early P-8 procurement, moderate electrification  Early P-8 diesel procurement beginning in 2020; 100 zero-emission electric buses entering fleet by 2020; additional 150 electric buses entering fleet between 2021 and 2028
Early P-8 procurement, aggressive electrification  Early P-8 diesel procurement beginning in 2020; 70% of all new buses entering fleet between 2019 and 2029 are zero-emission electric; all new buses are electric from 2030 onwards 

The figure below shows cumulative emissions of PM, NOx, and greenhouse gases (GHGs) from the Campinas fleet for the years 2020–2040 for each procurement scenario relative to the business-as-usual scenario. These results demonstrate that the most important near-term action for the control of emissions of the harmful air pollutants PM and NOx is an early transition to P-8 certified engine technologies, ahead of the full national implementation of these standards in 2023. Advancing P-8 procurement forward 3 years, as in the early procurement scenario, reduces PM and NOx emissions by about 20% and 30%, respectively, during the 2020–2040 timeframe. When early P-8 procurement is combined with electrification, the emissions savings are even greater.

Cumulative reduction in emissions of PM, NOx, and GHG from the Campinas conventional service bus fleet
Cumulative reduction in emissions of PM, NOx, and GHG from the Campinas conventional service bus fleet for the years 2020–2040 for three alternative procurement scenarios relative to the BAU scenario. PM and NOx results reflect tailpipe emissions; GHG emissions include both tailpipe emissions, as well as upstream emissions from fuel and feedstock production and transport.

Diesel buses meeting P-8 standards are already being produced in Brazil. However, these buses are being exported to Santiago, Chile, where an ambitious fleet renewal program prioritizing Euro VI diesel (P-8) and zero-emission electric bus technologies is underway. 

Early procurement of P-8 certified diesel buses would put Campinas on the path toward steep reductions in emissions of PM and NOx from its transit bus fleet. However, additional actions will be needed to address climate pollutant emissions. We’ve previously identified zero-emission electric buses as one of the low-carbon technologies that makes a lot of sense for Brazilian cities because of the high percentage of renewables in the country’s electricity generation mix and the concerns about indirect land use change from biofuels that could offset their climate benefits.

For Campinas, we looked at two different electrification scenarios, both of which mix early P-8 procurement with a scaling up of the city’s zero emission electric bus fleet. The moderate scenario corresponds to the level of electrification that would be expected if existing commitments to electric bus procurement are fulfilled. In this case, we estimate cumulative life-cycle GHG emissions in the 2020–2040 period would be reduced by about 15% relative to the BAU scenario. Deeper GHG emissions reductions will require a broader electrification strategy. In the aggressive scenario, electric bus procurement is scaled up more quickly and the fleet nears 100% electrification by 2040. We estimate that this pathway would reduce GHG emissions by 50% relative to the BAU scenario in the 2020–2040 timeframe.

The figure below shows fleet composition and emissions projections for the moderate and aggressive electrification scenarios. The emissions reduction schedule shown for the moderate scenario reflects the case where existing commitments to zero-emission electric buses are supplemented with early procurement of P-8 certified technologies. This should be the base level of ambition for Campinas in the new concession bidding process. A more ambitious fleet renewal plan, following the pathway shown for the aggressive electrification scenario, would yield even greater environmental benefits and position Campinas as a regional leader on cleaner and more sustainable public transportation.

brazil bus path to electrification
Projected changes in fleet composition (top panels) and emissions (bottom panels) for moderate (left) and aggressive (right) electrification procurement scenarios. Note analysis is shown only for the conventional service fleet. ZEB = zero emission electric bus.