Getting SMART about emissions: How BCIT researchers are helping to fill the knowledge gap in Electric Vehicle uptake

With the Province’s recent announcement that all vehicles sold in BC will be zero-emission by 2040, research into electric vehicle charging by BCIT’s Smart Microgrid Applied Research Team (SMART) is more vital than ever.

Led by Dr. Hassan Farhangi, the SMART team has spent close to a decade investigating and piloting projects to create charging infrastructure and energy management systems that remove barriers to large-scale uptake of electric vehicles.

According to project leader Joey Dabell, encouragement to purchase electric vehicles is just one part of the puzzle. Access to EV charging can be problematic for people who live in dense urban areas and have no off-street parking where they can install a charger. The inability to “fuel up” at home can be a barrier to electric vehicle uptake.

Electric Vehicle? Okay!
The <a href=httpswwwbcitcamicrogrid>Smart Microgrid Program<a> at BCIT advances the state of the electric power Smart Grid at an international level working to identify cost effective technologies and solutions for Canadas evolving Smart Electricity Grid BCITs Smart Microgrid was <a href=httpscommonsbcitcanews201711bcit smart microgrid named top 50 bc innovations watch>named a Top 50 BC Innovation to Watch<a> in 2017

SMART partnered with the City of New Westminster to pilot a solution to this challenge, installing curbside charging on some existing streetlights on city property. The project selected areas with so-called “garage orphans” where streetlights had also been transitioned to LEDs. The lower energy use that resulted then freed up electricity for EV charging by residents.

Eight charging stations have been installed since January 2018, with four more on their way. Other barriers to EV uptake addressed by the project include charging station installation in existing multi-unit residential buildings where infrastructure was not meant for increased electrical load, as well as open source solutions to help address the proprietary nature of existing charging stations.

According to Research Associate Kelly Carmichael, a workable EV charging solution is multi-faceted and requires development of EV infrastructure with EV energy management systems, and educating drivers, including on appropriate etiquette for using shared resources—in this case, public EV chargers.

Outcomes of this project include recommendations to codes and standards bodies on smart EV charging solutions, as well as a “blueprint” for Canadian municipalities to leverage streetlight infrastructure to provide Level 2 EV charging in otherwise challenging locations. The project was funded under Natural Resources Canada Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Development (EVID) Program.

Learn more about the project.

This story is part of the monthly Countdown to Ecocity 2019 series, which highlights BCIT’s leadership in the face of today’s complex environment challenges. This initiative supports the Ecocity Standard for Clean Air, which aims for reduced greenhouse gas emissions in communities.

Learn more about BCIT’s role as host of the Ecocity World Summit in 2019.

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