Tesla data informs first global study

In a paper to be presented at the Australian Transport Research Forum by University of Queensland researchers Thara Philip, Dr Kai Li Lim and Jake Whitehead, empirical data on the actual driving and load patterns of 239 electric vehicles across Australia are analysed. Since Tesla is the only automaker to widely allow application programming interface (API) access and 80% of electric vehicles sold in Australia are Teslas, they have formed the largest research pool. accessible.

One of the concerns that the research addressed was the effect on the network. I’ve written about this before, but only from anecdotal evidence. The University of Queensland (UQ) team provides information backed by academic rigour. I was glad the conclusions were similar.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), “electric vehicles are expected to represent between 2 and 4% of total electricity demand in 2030, compared to 0.3% today”. Thus, “to support grid stability and plan for future infrastructure upgrades, it is essential to accurately forecast the electricity demand from electric vehicles in the future.”

Data collected included “distance traveled, location, energy consumed during a ride, charging duration, charging time, charging location, battery state of charge (SoC) at beginning and end of the charging event, the location of the charging”.

Concerns about residential charging coinciding with rush hour and strain on the grid were allayed by the data. Home charging was the preferred option, especially for female drivers [Lee et al. (2020)]while out-of-home charging was needed for residents of high-density housing.

Real data is needed to inform those managing the network and planning upgrades. If we overestimate aggregate EV charging demand, it could lead to unnecessary upgrades at high cost.

The self-managed charging behavior observed indicated that EVs are plugged in at midday, charging at work or from home solar power. It should be noted that some workplaces also have solar. The research team noted that “recharge usage is lowest at 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m., which coincides with peak morning and evening rates, as shown with the decrease in recharge events from 4:00 pm Conversely, low electricity consumption is observed during the morning and evening peak periods.

Load density. Graphic courtesy of University of Queensland.

Most recharge events were recharges. The assumption that EV drivers let their charge reduce to almost nothing and then charge to 100% is not accurate. The impact of electric vehicle charging on the grid is expected to be minimal for the foreseeable future.

The data shows that a small number of drivers chose to charge during peak hours (4 p.m. to 8 p.m.). Why? Some possible reasons include recharging at the end of a trip or preparing for a long trip the next day. Thus, the vehicle should be charged over a longer period of time. Perhaps these drivers did not have access to off-peak charging or lived in rental housing and had no control over their electricity supply. However, demand per EV during the 18-hour peak period across the entire network (i.e., including home and public charging) is estimated at an average power increase of only 219 W.

The research identifies two peak charging periods for electric vehicles – mid-day and overnight. These align well with renewable energy generation from solar and wind power.

Owners of electric vehicles that have solar panels and a battery prioritize their own generation to power the home during peak hours. The fast charging infrastructure is used by those who travel longer distances.

“Importantly, this study highlights that many electric vehicle owners are already taking advantage of off-peak electricity rates and solar power to charge their electric vehicles. During the evening peak, EVs appear to only increase power demand by an average of 250W per vehicle (domestic and public charging combined). This is small compared to the increases caused by other electrical devices over the same period and suggests that fears that electric vehicles will weigh heavily on the power grid in the short term are likely overblown and undoubtedly premature. However, this does not remove the need to plan future smart charging programs that further support and encourage these existing positive charging behaviors.

“Looking ahead, it will be imperative to help tenants be able to move charging events away from the evening peak period through better access to off-peak rates and dedicated home charging infrastructure. . Continuing to raise awareness of the economic benefits of off-peak charging can also help displace the minority of charging events occurring during the evening electricity peak.

The data demonstrates that far from posing a significant risk to the grid, EV owners are already managing their charging responsibly. Encouraged by the price cuts, they mainly bill on the network outside of peak periods. If they have solar power, they recharge from excess energy generated during the day.

Thank you, UQ, the sky is not falling.

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