January 25, 2024

Imagine a world where the hum of engines and the smell of exhaust are things of the past. That’s the future electric vehicles (EVs) promise us. As it stands, our roads contribute about 12% of global carbon emissions, but the rise of EVs is key to turning this around and making transportation cleaner and greener.

But, to accelerate EV adoption, the sector needs to leverage a new type of fuel altogether: data. 

EVs are game-changers for infrastructure around the globe. With their growing numbers, they’re reshaping everything from city layouts to how we manage our electricity supply. The shift to EVs brings new challenges for our power grids and the need for innovative infrastructure to keep them running. 

Here’s how data can help meet those challenges:

The Grid

The central challenge that data can solve boils down like this: Lots of people tend to charge their EVs at the same time, placing sizable strain on electricity grids. But there are also periods when few people are charging their cars, meaning there is excess capacity in the grid. Is there a way to shift EV owners’ behaviors so they charge during times of lower demand? 

“Intelligent EV charging is becoming a big area,” said IEEE Senior Member Kyri Baker. “Charging EVs at high power rates can strain infrastructure like transformers, so smart scheduling of charging can help extend the lifespan of these components.”

By looking at how customers have used power in the past, it’s possible to make the distribution of electricity – especially for charging things – more efficient. By figuring out the busiest times and places for electricity use, the people running the power grid can spread out the power usage better. This way, they can avoid overloading the system, save on energy costs, and make the whole network run smoother.

Where Can You Charge? 

Knowing how much battery power an EV has left is super useful, not just to individual drivers, but to all their fellow drivers on the road. That information, sometimes referred to as the vehicle’s state of charge, can tell an individual motorist how far they can go before they need to refuel. By collecting and analyzing state of charge data for many vehicles, a driver can know the best charging station to use to avoid a wait. And builders would also be able to use the data to understand the best place to build new charging stations. 

“By analyzing the historical data of electric vehicle charging station use, like time of day, day of the week, seasonal variations, etc, it is possible to understand where the demand is high,” said IEEE Senior Member Marcio Andrey Teixeira. “The behavior of the data is another important factor because it provides insights like preferred charging times and popular routes. This information helps in the optimization of the placement of charging stations along frequently traveled routes.”

Learn more: Electric vehicles are here to stay, according to an editorial from IEEE Power & Energy Magazine. This means that the distribution grid and its stakeholders need to ensure that EVs and the grid work together. The Nov.-Dec. 2023 issue devotes numerous articles to the challenges of integrating EVs


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