Researchers from the DATA SIM EU-wide project coupled data from GSM and GPS to predict what would happen if large numbers of people start to drive electric vehicles.
Traditionally the impact was measured by keeping diaries, logging trips or answering questionnaires, but the EU DATA SIM project developed a new behavioural model to predict it.
“You could compare how many people drive electric, for how long and how far, based on the current technology on the one hand, and how this evolves when technology improves, on the other,” said project coordinator Davy Janssens, from Hasselt University in Belgium.
The research analysed the effect on mobility and electricity distribution networks in a scenario where electric cars would be in mass production and driven by everyone.
The study also tried to determine what and where energy demands were going to be and whether electric cars could be used to store any excess of generated energy in peak periods that could be fed back into the grid when the cars are parked.
“You can see whether there is a risk of energy shortages in certain zones when a given number of vehicles are being charged. For example, if too many electric vehicles are charged at the same time, is there a risk that the street lighting will go out?
"For the first time data mining, database management, complex systems, transport, energy and computer science have all come together to find practical solutions for mobility", said Janssens. The project now aims to recommend actions based on its findings to national policy makers, as the design and performance of electric vehicles continues to improve and could become the norm by 2020, it stated.
The project was led by seven countries and received £1.6m investment from the EU.