Electric vehicles are seen by many as a viable alternative to conventional vehicles, in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and improve vehicle energy efficiency. In order to better understand possible implications of the introduction of such vehicles – especially on infrastructure – a computer simulation has been developed at the Institute for Transport Planning and Systems at ETH Zurich.
Nowadays, most major car manufacturers are working on designs for electric vehicle models. Furthermore, various governments around the globe are promoting electric vehicles through distinct policy measures. However, the impact of electric vehicles on existing infrastructure, e.g. electricity networks is unclear. Moreover, there is a need to better understand the integration of public and private electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Likewise, models are needed which assist to design and evaluate policies related to electric vehicles.
In order to address these questions and issues, a simulation framework has been developed at the Institute for Transport Planning and Systems at ETH Zurich. The framework is based on an agent-based model, meaning that people in the real-world are modelled as virtual actors within a computer simulation. The attributes, behavior and preferences of these agents are governed by rules, which are based on real-world data, e.g. census data and surveys. The main goal of the simulations is to facilitate scenario based analysis within the context of electric vehicles. This means some agents are equipped with electric vehicles, e.g. to find out where in the current electricity grid supply infrastructure constraints could arise due to transformer or power line overloads. Within the Artemis project, the framework has been applied to analyze electric vehicle charging effects on the electricity network in the city of Zurich. Further simulations were conducted within the THELMA project to perform country-wide electric grid analysis for Switzerland and life cycle analysis for local scenarios, where the environmental footprint of households was assessed.
At the moment the framework is being extended in order to design and evaluate policy measures related to electric vehicles, e.g. possible impact of various incentives and tax schemes.
Dr. Rashid Waraich is scientific collaborator at the Institute for Transport Planning and Systems (IVT), ETH Zurich.