July 25, 2024

Plans for the global and national level to fight climate change include increasing the amount of electric vehicles as well as the proportion of electricity produced by renewable sources. Some projections suggest these changes could require expensive new power stations to accommodate demands during evenings when cars are connected after a long day of work. What’s more, overproduction of power from solar farms during the daytime can waste valuable electricity-generation capacity.

In a recent study, MIT researchers have found that it’s possible to alleviate or completely eliminate both of these issues without the need for sophisticated technology that includes integrated devices as well as real-time communication which can increase the cost and consumption of energy. Instead, encourage the installation the charging points for electric cars (EVs) strategically instead of permitting them to pop up everywhere and establishing mechanisms to start charging cars with a delay could have a significant impact.

This study was released today in the journal Cell Reports Physical Science The study was conducted composed of Zachary Needell PhD ’22, postdoc Wei Wei, and Professor Jessika Trancik of MIT’s Institute for Data, Systems, and Society.

In their research, researchers used data from two cities that were sampled: New York and Dallas. The data came from as well as other sources, anonymous records gathered by the onboard computers in cars and surveys that carefully selected populations to examine a range of behavior patterns in travel. They revealed the time of the day when cars are utilized and how long and how long cars spend in various types of places — such as work, home, shopping entertainment, and more.

The results, Trancik says, “round out the picture on the question of where to strategically locate chargers to support EV adoption and also support the power grid.”

A better access to charging stations at workplaces, for instance could assist in absorbing the power that is generated at midday by solar power systems that could otherwise be wasted since it’s not financially feasible to create enough battery as well as other capacities to store all of it to use future use. So, workplace chargers could be a benefit in two ways in reducing the afternoon peak load of electric vehicle charging, while also using solar power output.

The consequences for electricity systems can be significant, particularly when the system is required to fulfill the charging requirements of vehicles that are fully electrified for personal use fleet in addition to peaking other electricity-related demands such as on the hot times of year. If not controlled, the evening peak in EV charging demands could necessitate setting up 20 percent or more larger power-generation capacity, researchers suggest.

“Slow workplace charging can be more preferable than faster charging technologies for enabling a higher utilization of midday solar resources,” Wei declares.

In the meantime, with the delay in home charging, every EV charger can be controlled by an app that can calculate the timing to begin the charging process in order to charge it just before the time it’s needed next day. Contrary to other plans that call for an centralized control of the charging process the system has no interdevice communication and is programmable -and could lead to significant changes in demand on the grid triggered by the rise in EV use. The reason it functions so well, according to Trancik it is due to the inherent differences in the driving behavior of individuals within a community.

When they refer to “home charging,” the researchers aren’t just referring to charging devices in garages or parking spaces. They believe it’s crucial to have charging stations accessible in parking lots on streets as well as in apartment building parking areas too.

Trancik says that the findings show the benefits of combining two methods such as workplace charging and home charging delayedto lower the peak demand for electricity and store solar energy and efficiently provide drivers with charging throughout the day. As the team demonstrated in earlier studies home charging could be an especially effective element of a plan to strategically arrange charging stations; work-related charging it was discovered isn’t a suitable alternative to home charging in satisfying the needs of drivers throughout the day.

“Given that there’s a lot of public money going into expanding charging infrastructure,” Trancik states, “how do you incentivize the location such that this is going to be efficiently and effectively integrated into the power grid without requiring a lot of additional capacity expansion?” This research provides some suggestions to policymakers about the best areas to place on incentives and rules.

“I think one of the fascinating things about these findings is that by being strategic you can avoid a lot of physical infrastructure that you would otherwise need,” she says. “Your electric vehicles can displace some of the need for stationary energy storage, and you can also avoid the need to expand the capacity of power plants, by thinking about the location of chargers as a tool for managing demands — where they occur and when they occur.”

Home charging delayed for a while could result in an astonishing change, according to the team. “It’s basically encouraging consumers to start charging later. This could be a feature that’s built to your devices. The idea is to motivate customers to delay the beginning in charging by little to ensure that no one is charging simultaneously which smooths out the high.”

A program like this would require an advance commitment from participants. “You would need to have enough people committing to this program in advance to avoid the investment in physical infrastructure,” Trancik states. “So, if you have enough people signing up, then you essentially don’t have to build those extra power plants.”

It’s not an absolute fact that everything will be in sync and having the appropriate mix of incentives will be essential. “If you want electric vehicles to act as an effective storage technology for solar energy, then the [EV] market needs to grow fast enough in order to be able to do that,” Trancik states.

In order to make the most of public funds to achieve this According to her “you can incentivize charging installations, which would go through ideally a competitive process — in the private sector, you would have companies bidding for different projects, but you can incentivize installing charging at workplaces, for example, to tap into both of these benefits.” Chargers that people can use when they are in the vicinity of their residences are also essential, Trancik adds, but because of other reasons. Home charging is among the methods to satisfy requirements for charging, while avoiding interruptions to the travel of people.

 

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