A team of engineers performed a study of EV charging patterns on the University of California San Diego campus from early January to late May of 2020, after the university moved most of its operations online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The team published their findings, which they say can be applied to a broader range of settings, in the Journal of Renewable and Sustainable Energy.
The study looked at 100 charging stations in 28 parking structures. As expected, charging declined dramatically once most campus operations became remote. Also as expected, charging at the campus’s medical center was less impacted as medical facilities continued most in-person operations, and healthcare workers and patients kept using those charging stations.
This reflects nationwide trends. Vehicle travel in the US declined by about 40 percent from mid-March to mid-April 2020, according to the National Bureau of Economic Research.
However, DC fast chargers were less affected than Level 2 chargers—energy delivered at Level 2 chargers on the main UC San Diego campus decreased by 84 percent. DC fast charging initially dropped by 67 percent, but these stations returned to near-normal usage in a short period of time.
“This finding reinforces ongoing efforts to deploy at least an additional 20 DC fast chargers primarily on the perimeter of campus in order to serve both UC San Diego commuters as well as the general public in need of recharging,” said Byron Washom, UC San Diego’s Director of Strategic Energy Initiatives and one of the paper’s co-authors.
“Workplace charging is a critical enabler of carbon-free transportation, as the electrons consumed primarily come from solar power plants, as opposed to at-home charging, which occurs at night and relies more on fossil fuel power plants,” said Jan Kleissl, the paper’s senior author and a Professor of Environmental Engineering at UC San Diego. “Commuting patterns based on five days a week in the office are unlikely to resume, however, as employers may allow more telecommuting even after the end of the pandemic.”