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Optimizing energy distribution in EV charging stations

August 6, 2019
Chloe Leblanc

Electrical Engineering, class of 2020

This summer I have been working for the PowerNet lab, focusing on energy distribution in the grid. The rise of solar panels and electric vehicles on the market has challenged the traditional model of energy distribution. Residential PV panels send electricity back to the grid, while electric vehicles cause dramatic peaks in electricity demand. Energy producers are now on the lookout for ways to anticipate demand in order to adequately distribute energy. I consider fast charging stations, which are very popular among EV owners as they allow electric vehicles to charge in less than 30 minutes. However these stations are particularly energy-thirsty. A possible solution to their draining demand is the implementation of storage batteries in the stations. These batteries can discharge during times of high demand—thus reducing the demand peaks—and recharge when the stations are unused. But at what rate should the battery discharge? How can we predict the frequency and duration of the peaks? When is the right time for the battery to recharge? How much money can the consumers and producers save with those batteries? My goal is to answer these questions and predict demand trends. This implies inferring how long each car will take to completely charge, how many cars can be charged at the same time, and the initial state of charge of each car coming in or out. This work has been a great learning experience. I have learned a great deal about predictive modeling and improved my coding skills by applying them to real-life problems. I really look forward to future results and outcomes!