With electric vehicles making their way into the mainstream, building out the nationwide network of charging stations to keep them going will be increasingly important.A new study from the Georgia Institute of Technology School of Public Policy harnesses machine learning techniques to provide the best insight yet into the attitudes of electric vehicle (EV) drivers about the existing charger network. The findings could help policymakers focus their efforts.
In the paper, published in the June 2020 issue the journal Nature Sustainability, a team led by Assistant Professor Omar Isaac Asensio describes training a machine learning algorithm to analyze unstructured consumer data from 12,270 electric vehicle charging stations across the U.S.
The study demonstrates how machine learning tools can be used to quickly analyze streaming data for policy evaluation in near-real time. Streaming data refers to data that comes in a continuous feed, such as user reviews from an app. The study also revealed surprising findings about how EV drivers feel about charging stations.
For instance, the conventional wisdom that drivers prefer private stations to public ones appears to be wrong. The study also finds potential problems with charging stations in larger cities, presaging challenges yet to come in creating a robust charging system that meets all drivers' needs.
"Based on evidence from consumer data, we argue that it is not enough to just invest money into increasing the quantity of stations, it is also important to invest in the quality of the charging experience," Asensio wrote. Perceived Lack of Charging Stations a Barrier to Adoption
More Than Meets The Eye With Renewable Energy. Most people assume they have renewable energy all figured out. You’re probably familiar with the typical forms of it, like solar and wind. You’ve probably encountered a whole slew of statistics about the benefits renewable energy has to offer to you and the planet. While this is all useful information, don’t underestimate what renewable energy is and has to offer. There are plenty of surprising facts and statistics for you to learn about. Whether they encourage you to become a Star Energy Partner with us or help you impress your friends at a party, you will find this information useful. Here are a few surprising things about renewable energy.
Electric vehicles are considered a crucial part of the solution to climate change: transportation is now the leading contributor of climate-warming emissions. But one major barrier to broader adoption of electric vehicles is the perception of a lack of charging stations, and the attending "range anxiety" that makes many drivers nervous about buying an EV.
While that infrastructure has grown considerably in recent years, the work hasn't taken into account what consumers actually want, Asensio said.
"In the early years of EV infrastructure development, most policies were geared to using incentives to increase the quantity of charging stations," Asensio said. "We haven't had enough focus on building out reliable infrastructure that can give confidence to users."
This study helps rectify that shortcoming by offering evidence-based, national analysis of actual consumer sentiment, as opposed to indirect travel surveys or simulated data used in many analyses.Asensio directed the study with a team of five students in public policy, engineering, and computing. Two were from Georgia Tech: Catharina Hollauer, a recent graduate of the H. Milton School of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and Sooji Ha, a dual Ph.D. student in the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the School of Computational Science and Engineering.
The other three were participants in the 2018 Georgia Tech Civic Data Science Fellows program, which draws talented students from around the country to the Georgia Tech campus for a summer of research and learning. They are Kevin Alvarez of North Carolina State University, Arielle Dror of Smith College, and Emerson Wenzel of Tufts University.
According to the WWF, the whole world could get all the power it needs from renewable resources by 2050, ending our reliance on fossil fuels and other depleting resources – but only if the right political, financial and societal decisions are made, and quickly.
EV Charging Sore Spots Revealed
Asensio's team used deep learning text classification algorithms to analyze data from a popular EV users smartphone app. It would have taken most of a year using conventional methods. But the team's approach cut the task down to minutes while classifying sentiment with accuracy similar to that of human experts.
"Our findings suggest that some of the signs commonly used to track innovation and business success, such as patents and financing, increase when new cleantech companies partner with US government departments or labs," said study co-author Laura Diaz Anadon, Professor of Climate Change Policy at the University of Cambridge.
The study found that workplace and mixed-use residential stations get low ratings, with frequent complaints about lack of accessibility and signage. Fee-based charging stations tend to get more poor reviews than free charging stations. But it is stations in dense urban centers that really draw complaints, according to the study.
When researchers controlled for location and other characteristics, stations in dense urban areas showed a 12—15% increase in negative sentiment compared to nonurban locations.
This could indicate a broad range of service quality issues in the largest EV markets, including things like malfunctioning equipment and an insufficient number of chargers, Asensio said.
The highest rated stations are often located at hotels, restaurants, and convenience stores, a finding that may support incentive-based management practices in which chargers are installed to draw customers. Stations at public parks and recreation facilities, RV parks, and visitor centers also do well, according to the study.
But, contrary to theories predicting that private stations should provide more efficient services, the study found no statistically significant difference in user preferences when it comes to public versus private chargers.
That finding could be an inducement to invest in public charging infrastructure to meet future growth, Asensio said. Such a network was cited in a study by the National Research Council as key to helping overcome barriers to EV adoption.
Improving Policy Evaluation Beyond EV's
Overall, Asensio said the study points to the need to prioritize consumer data when considering how to build out infrastructure, especially when it comes to requirements for charging stations in new buildings.
But EV policy is not the only way the study's deep learning techniques can be used to analyze this kind of material. They could be adapted to a broad range of energy and transportation issues, allowing researchers to deliver rapid analysis with just minutes of computation, compared to time lags measured sometimes in months or years using more traditional methods.
Tech giants, Google, Apple, and Facebook lead the pack in creating a ‘green internet’ – each are using increasingly green energy to power the web.
"The follow-on potential for energy policy is to move toward automated forms of infrastructure management powered by machine learning, particularly for critical linkages between energy and transportation systems and smart cities," Asensio said.
Explore furtherOmar Isaac Asensio et al, Real-time data from mobile platforms to evaluate sustainable transportation infrastructure, Nature Sustainability (2020). DOI: 10.1038/s41893-020-0533-6
Journal information: Nature SustainabilityProvided by Georgia Institute of Technology
Citation: What do electric vehicle drivers think of the charging network they use? (2020, June 9) retrieved 14 June 2020 from https://techxplore.com/news/2020-06-electric-vehicle-drivers-network.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
Renewable energy investments are cost effective. The International Renewable Energy Agency released a new policy brief showing that renewable energy has become the most cost-effective way to generate electricity for hundreds of millions of people worldwide who are not on the grid. Read more here.