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Erasmus Centre for Data Analytics white logo SVG

Smart Energy & Mobility Towards a Sustainable Society

Smart Energy & Mobility Towards a Sustainable Society

Whether it’s optimizing energy flows, keeping the energy grid balanced, or developing new business models for fleets of electric vehicles – digitalization, data and artificial intelligence (AI) have an enormous potential to create a more sustainable society towards the Paris climate ambitions and the green digital deal. What does this mean, for individual citizens, for companies and their business models and for society as a whole? What can we expect in the future and how can we use the potential of AI to create societal value and impact, while keeping risks to a minimum? This Initiative aims for innovative and interdisciplinary research and education in how we can use data, analytics and AI for developing a sustainable society in the context of the energy transition and the transition towards smart and sustainable mobility.

Erasmus Analytics Portraits

Dr. Marcel van Oosterhout

Executive Director ECDA


The dynamism and complexity of the energy transition requires multidisciplinary expertise with a broad spectrum of knowledge combined with cutting edge research techniques and technologies using data, analytics and AI. Our aim is to clear a path through the complexity to allow informed choices to be made, and at the same time provide an arena for the evolution of theory.

Several of ECDA’s expert practices are involved in this initiative

The energy transition in urban environments

RUGGEDISED is a smart city project funded under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme (2016-2022). It brings together three lighthouse cities: Rotterdam, Glasgow and Umeå and three follower cities: Brno, Gdansk and Parma to test, implement and accelerate the smart city model across Europe. Working in partnership with businesses and research centres these six cities demonstrate how to combine ICT, e-mobility and energy solutions to design smart, resilient cities for all.

Our involvement in the project is focused on the following topics:

  • Analysis of network of electric buses in Rotterdam, simulating the transition to electric buses and exploring the impact of electric buses and smart charging on service levels, costs, and CO2 footprint (one full time Phd Position)
  • Optimization charging of buses, linking demand for electricity of electric buses to supply of renewable energy
  • Governance and design of urban data platforms and the role of municipalities
  • New business models for companies engaging in the urban data platform ecosystem
  • Exploring citizen engagement and ethical considerations for smart cities
  • Developing teaching cases on the introduction of electric buses, the development of an urban data platform and the realization of a smart thermal grid in Rotterdam

More information and relevant links:

Sustainable and smart mobility

The energy transition in industrial and port environments

Since October 2021 the Erasmus Centre for Data Analytics (ECDA) and the Erasmus Centre for Urban Port and Transport Economics (Erasmus UPT) have a prominent and leading role in several work packages of the EU project that has been given the acronym MAGPIE: sMArt Green Ports as Integrated Efficient multimodal hubs

The MAGPIE project has been awarded nearly € 25 million in EU funding to improve the sustainability of ports in the European Union. In total 45 organizations are collaborating in an international alliance working on a Horizon2020 project under the Green Deal Call to boost the green and digital transition. The project is led by the Port of Rotterdam and runs from 2021 until 2026.

In the years ahead, the transport sector is expected to transition to clean energy, but it’s not yet clear which types it will adopt, and for which modes of transport. However, speeding up the implementation of sustainable energy and enhancing its roll-out on a larger scale is dependent on the development of new digital tools, new market mechanisms and non-technological frameworks. Here’s where the expertise of the two specialist EUR centres will be used in the MAGPIE project. Given MAGPIE’s thematic focus on green energy and autonomous mobility, its collaborative nature, and its focus on strengthening the regional economy, it fits perfectly with EUR’s strategy to create positive societal impact, as well as with the Erasmus strategic convergence initiatives on AI, data and digitalisation from the universities and medical schools of Delft, Rotterdam and Leiden, and on Resilient Delta.

Prof. Rob Zuidwijk, Professor of Global Supply Chains and Ports at RSM and Academic Director of ECDA, said: “This project will allow us to work with public and private partners on innovative concepts for autonomous and green logistics in ports. We can build on our expertise in these fields but can also learn from and contribute to the demonstrators in the project. For example, some of the demonstrators will help us further understand how logistics systems support energy systems but also depend on it, and how methods can be deployed to enhance the performance of these combined systems. Also, we will discover how autonomous transport solutions help create new modes of transport that give new meaning to ‘modal shift for green performance’.”

Dr Yashar Ghiassi-Farrokhfal, leading ECDA’s expert practice on energy & sustainability said: “In this project, the power of data is harnessed by linking a digital twin of the port with the power of AI to optimize the energy system and the use of renewable energy in connection with an optimized logistics network. ECDA’s expert practices on energy and sustainability, and sustainable global supply chains and ports will provide a cross-disciplinary perspective on this challenge. The project fits well into our purpose to prepare society for a data-driven future that is hands-on and human-centred and that guides us towards a sustainable world.”

Dr Larissa van der Lugt, Director of Erasmus UPT, an Erasmus University based independent specialist knowledge centre for applied research into port economics and management, urban economics, mobility and transport, noted: “Not all developments in the project are about technology. Erasmus UPT is responsible for impact monitoring and developing the right non-technological frameworks to enhance adoption of the innovations. These can include new market mechanisms, new financial models or price differentiation – in fact all the financial and economic infrastructures that would help a technological innovation to be implemented in a port business. We will consider the cost gap between the old way of doing things and the new way, and what that means when encouraging new users to adopt it. The information we generate for MAGPIE can be used in similar port environments around the world, for scaling up the innovations from the MAGPIE pilot projects, while the information we uncover will help to make new developments become the norm in the market.”

More information and relevant links:

Educational offering

With several partners, we are involved in the development of a portfolio of energy transition programs.

ECDA’s  Leadership challenge with data analytics programme provides multidisciplinary teams a holistic introduction into the world of data, analytics and AI, while working on an action learning project that they bring from their organization. 

Partnerships and network collaboration

ECDA is partner in the Recharge Earth Platform. Recharge Earth is the platform for professionals involved in the energy transition. A cleaner energy supply involves complex issues that cannot be solved individually. That is why Recharge Earth brings together different stakeholders from government, business and academia.  To inspire each other, share knowledge and jointly explore a new energy future. More information:

Other relevant partnerships are listed on our community partnerships page.