Planning the Adoption of Electric Vehicles in the Bay Area: Environmental Benefits vs. Electric Energy Costs

Research Team: Marta C. Gonzales (lead) and Luis Eduardo Olmos

UC Campus(es): UC Berkeley

Problem Statement: California’s Clean Vehicle Rebate Project (CVRP) is designed to promote the purchase of battery electric, plug-in hybrid electric (PEV). PEV technology is one of the most promising candidates to date to ameliorate the use of oil and the associate emissions with traffic. The challenge with the rise PEV adoption is the increasing need for alignment of the state’s electricity and mobility demands. Transportation and power infrastructures are becoming increasingly interdependent and this can create undesired instabilities in the grid.

Project Description: This proposal will integrate novel and traditional data sources to estimate the costs and benefits of the adoption of electric cars in the Bay Area. We uncover patterns of PEV mobility by integrating for the first time: (i) mobile phone activity of 1.39 million Bay Area residents, (ii) charging activity of PEVs in 580,000 sessions obtained in the same region, (iii) EV mobility survey and the profiles of the CVRP and (iv) Global Positioning Systems (GPS) from large car fleets. The end goal is to project the costs to the grid vs. the benefits as a function of different EV adoption scenarios. The benefit is measured in terms of the savings in fuel consumption by changing from gasoline cars to EVs. We will estimate and contrast the individual environmental footprint of users of various gasoline vehicles vs. EVs. First, we leverage an existing framework that uses GPS data, existing distributions of car fleets, and Call Detail Records to model fuel consumption at urban scale and their associated emissions. This allows us to measure the environmental footprint of the existing vehicle fleets and the subsequent comparison with different rates of EV adoption. Second, we analyze charging station data to estimates the associated increase in electricity demand with EV adoption.

Status: In Progress

Budget: $64,912