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How the charging of electric vehicles will be challenging for cities

Claude El-Bayeh

This article features Claude El-Bayeh, a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Gina Cody School of Engineering and Computer Science and his research on the future of electric vehicle (EVs) charging stations. 

He discusses the effects EVs may have on economics and power grids. “If you have a million electric cars and they all start charging at the same time, it will create a lot of problems for the network and perhaps cause a blackout,” says El-Bayeh, “instead of improving the stability of the network and reducing pollution by using EVs, you’ll have the reverse effect. That is why we need to develop algorithms to balance the network constraints and the needs of the EV owner.”

Looking into the future, he discusses how utilities and city planners can and should do more to facilitate the transition from internal combustion engine vehicles to EVs. Two methods that stand out in his research are Continuous Coordinated Direct Charging and Discharging and Discrete Coordinated Direct Charging and Discharging. The former uses optimization techniques to charge and discharge power to and from EVs that take best advantage of high electricity prices seen during peak hours. The latter breaks up charging time into smaller units, reducing peak demand and flattening it over a prolonged period. The researcher notes that both approaches appear to be the most promising, but there is a lot more work to do before implementation.

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