BC's Electric-Car Charging Stations: 2 Years Of Data And What It Tells Us


2015 Nissan Leaf

2015 Nissan Leaf

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British Columbia's public charging stations got twice as busy in the past year, roughly tracking the increase in the Canadian province's plug-in electric vehicle population.

The results were announced earlier this month by the Fraser Basin Council and Powertech Labs, two members of the Plug in BC initiative working to support the adoption of electric transportation.

After a couple weeks' correspondence and clearing confidentiality concerns, GreenCarReports can share a preview of some of the study's detailed findings.

The full results will be presented this week in Vancouver at Canada's upcoming national electric vehicle conference.

evCloud computing

In April 2012, the province of British Columbia set up a Community Charging Infrastructure (CCI) fund to seed the province with Level 2 charging stations, with the goal of jump-starting a transition to electric transportation.

User data for electric-car charging stations from British Columbia 'evCloud' project, Oct 2014

User data for electric-car charging stations from British Columbia 'evCloud' project, Oct 2014

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Between the CCI and a parallel municipal initiative by the city of Vancouver, the province now has about 550 Level 2 charging outlets that came online within the year.

The end of the CCI fund (and with it, government records) has made it harder to track the number of charging stations in the province in the past 18 months.

But Oregon–a state with a similar population and environmental leanings–now has more than 850 Level 2 charging outlets. While we don't have Oregonian plug-in population numbers handy, we can be pretty confident they dwarf B.C.'s 1400-odd electric vehicles today.

The great news for advocates and academics alike is that the owners of 350 of the 550 charging outlets agreed to pool their data in a database called the evCloud, and many of these further agreed to make their station usage statistics publicly available.

Given time and computational power, researchers and public policy analysts should be able to transform this wealth of data into a wealth of insight about where charging stations should be placed, and how much usage owners might expect from them.

The postal codes of plug-in electric car buyers, captured in the province's now-expired incentive program, may also be useful to map against the location of those charging stations.

Aggregate highlights

The evCloud homepage provides a running total of high-level statistics such as kWh dispensed, avoided CO2 emissions, and the number of charging sessions (approaching 50,000).

User data for electric-car charging stations from British Columbia 'evCloud' project, Oct 2014

User data for electric-car charging stations from British Columbia 'evCloud' project, Oct 2014

Enlarge Photo

Figures for this past September showed that about 70 percent of charging sessions (2,765 of 3,998) were three hours or less, with vehicles receiving an average 6 kWh.

There were also noticeable "humps" at roughly the 8-hour and 16-hour marks. The former are likely commuters plugging their vehicles in during the day, and the latter are presumably fleet vehicles which are left plugged in overnight.

Fleet vehicles would also explain the occasional 60-hour charging session (weekends) and the odd 100+ hour charging marathon (holiday periods).


 
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