Market Insights

Delayed EV Charging, Strategic Charger Placement Could Reduce Power Plant Need

April 07, 2023 by Claire Turvill

MIT researchers encourage the strategic placement of EV charging stations to reduce stress on the electric grid.

Efforts to address climate change on both national and global scales involve promoting the adoption of electric vehicles and expanding the use of renewable energy sources to generate electricity. 


EV charging. Image used courtesy of Pixabay


However, certain forecasts suggest that such measures could necessitate the construction of expensive power facilities to meet the evening peak demand when vehicles are being charged after the workday. Unfortunately, it is not economical to increase battery storage for solar energy generated during the day to save for use later, and surplus power generated by solar farms during the day can lead to inefficient use of electricity generation capacity.

A Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) study has proposed a solution to address the issues of costly technological systems and energy consumption concerning electric vehicle charging. 


Strategic Electric Vehicle Charging Locations

Workplace Charging

The study suggests that strategically locating charging stations and implementing delayed charging systems could alleviate the need for additional power plants and inefficient generation from solar farms without advanced devices and real-time communication.

Data for this study were collected from electric vehicles in New York and Dallas. Anonymized records from the vehicles’ onboard devices were compiled along with surveys to account for variable travel behaviors. The results showed what time of day cars were used, for how long, and time spent at different locations‒home, work, shops, etc.

Increasing the number of charging stations available at workplaces could use up peak power produced during the day from solar-powered stations. Cars charged at work could reduce the peak load from EV charging in the evenings and utilize solar electricity output.

The researchers emphasize that slow charging stations at work are preferable to fast charging to best utilize midday solar generation.


Home Electric Vehicle Charging

Many electric vehicle owners plug in their cars to charge overnight, creating an evening peak in charging demand that, if left unmitigated, could require installing up to 20 percent more power generation capacity.


Many electric vehicle owners plug in their cars to charge overnight, creating an evening peak in charging demand that, if left unmitigated, could require installing up to 20 percent more power generation capacity.


An electric vehicle can be charged fully just before it is required the next day by introducing delayed home charging, accompanied by a user-friendly app that predicts the optimal time for charging to begin.

This approach eliminates the need for centralized control of charging cycles and inter-device communication, making it a simple and preprogrammed system that could effectively address the demand on the power grid resulting from the growing popularity of EVs. The system’s effectiveness lies in the natural variations in driving behaviors across individuals, making it an efficient and reliable solution.

The researchers point out that this system can be used in on-street and apartment building parking areas, not just in home garages.


Incentivizing Electric Vehicle Charging

The study’s results demonstrate the significance of integrating workplace and delayed home charging to address peak electricity demand, store solar energy, and provide a convenient charging solution for EV drivers daily. The MIT team’s earlier research has indicated that home charging is an essential element of a well-planned charging infrastructure, while workplace charging cannot fully substitute for home charging in meeting drivers’ needs all of the time.


EV charging. Image used courtesy of Pixabay

A significant public investment is going into expanding charging infrastructure, raising the question of how to incentivize efficient integration into the power grid without necessitating considerable capacity expansion. 

Through strategic planning, it is possible to avoid investing in additional physical infrastructure. By positioning chargers in specific locations and timing when charging begins, EVs can help mitigate the need for stationary energy storage and prevent the expansion of power plant capacity.

Delayed home charging can be a powerful tool to incentivize users to charge their vehicles later, which would avoid peak demand times and help balance the grid. However, for such a program to be effective, there needs to be a significant number of participants who commit to it in advance, thus avoiding the need for further infrastructure investment.

The right mix of incentives is crucial for EVs to act as effective storage for solar energy, and the EV market needs to grow fast enough to make this charging system possible. To maximize the use of public funds to promote EVs, the researchers suggest incentivizing charging installations through a competitive process, with companies bidding for different projects. 

Workplace charging can tap into both the benefits of reducing peak electricity demand and storing solar energy. Home charging is also important to meet charging needs while avoiding disruptions to travel activities.