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Gonzalez, Moura Author Paper on Electric Vehicle ChargingUsage in the Bay Area

NATURE ENERGY ARTICLE HIGHLIGHTS ENERGY AND COST-SAVING RECOMMENDATIONS TO INCREASE COMMUTE EFFICIENCY WHILE DECREASING PEAK ENERGY DEMANDS

ITS affiliate professors Marta Gonzalez and Scott Moura's co-authored paper, “Planning for electric vehicle needs by coupling charging profiles with urban mobility,” was recently published in Nature Energy, a Nature research journal.

Given the increasing ubiquity of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) in the Bay Area, the article aims to assist planning decisions by providing timing recommendations and assigning monetary values to modulations of PEV start and end charging times. According to the US Energy Information Administration, the number of PEVs in the United States doubled between 2013 and 2015 and is expected to reach 20 million by 2020.

Using cell phone activity of a large sample of Bay Area residents, charging session data from electric vehicles, surveys, and census data, Gonzalez and her co-authors observed that PEV charging times peak between 8 and 10 a.m. following morning commutes. Because many tech employers in the Bay Area Peninsula provide free vehicle charging, the co-authors observed a concentrated charging density in Cupertino and surrounding neighborhoods.

The article recommends altering the PEV charging start and end times to limit the energy drain and potential power grid instability following commutes. The paper calculates the monetary gains achieved by slight shifts in charging start times. The authors believe monetary incentivizes could be offered to increase the adoption of charging PEVs at slightly off-peak times.

The paper's authors hope these results can inform planning decisions in the Bay Area and serve as a model to other cities by accommodating mobility needs while decreasing energy costs and minimizing the impact on commute duration.

Read the complete article in Nature Energy.