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Electric Vehicle Detection Project

Project Partners: Deakin University, United Energy, C4NET

Big data and predictive analytics offers energy providers a way to better forecast and respond to, fluctuating demand patterns relating to electric car uptake. Demand insights into consumer behaviour around where, when and how often drivers charge their vehicles will contribute to a greener and more reliable grid by improving capacity planning and integration of renewable sources.

Competition provides industry solutions

The Deakin EV Challenge 2022 is part of an innovative research project with industry partners United Energy (UE)and Centre for New Energy Technologies (C4NET) where multi-disciplinary student research teams developed algorithms to detect the presence of an EV at a network charging site (such as a household).

Deakin Business School’s (DBS) Professor Rens Scheepers lead the research project. A competition prize pool of $20,000 was sponsored by both UE and C4NET – to provide results that will help UE understand and plan for energy demand across its grid network.

If a lot of EVs are charging in a particular location, it puts particular demands on the grid, so providers need to know where the uptake is and how to accurately invest in capacity, infrastructure planning and upgrades. This competition has been working with big data and providing predictive analytics solutions to help providers manage power demands, optimise the use of clean energy, and better reduce emissions.

Using data from de-identified sites across UE’s grid, ten Deakin teams – made up of academic mentors and up to three students from DBS and Deakin’s Faculty of Science Engineering and Built Environment – developed algorithms for UE that were evaluated for performance and ranked according to their merit criteria.

Prof. Scheepers (who directs DBS’s Business and Technology research theme) says that in the world of machine learning, algorithms like this are developed through the provision of training data.

‘This is time-series data from (de-identified) households where known electric vehicles are being charged on the grid. The testing data was sent to the research teams – who did not know if there was an EV being charged or not – who then developed detection algorithms. Energy providers need these algorithms to be as accurate as possible – minimising false positives – about whether or not an EV is being charged at locations as that ultimately informs demand planning.’

Deakin’s student research talent

UE’s Head of Network Intelligence, Tobie de Villers, says the organisation has been impressed by the capabilities of Deakin’s student research teams.

‘These talented students have researched and tested potential solutions that will provide us the insight we need to accommodate more electric vehicles on our network. Knowing where electric vehicles are located and are being charged will give us the data we need to understand what investments we need to make in our network to support our customers. We value our collaborations with universities and are proud to be part of bringing together applied academic expertise with real world industry applications.’

C4NET’s CEO James Seymour says that UE has engaged some of the freshest minds in data analytics to bring new techniques and approaches to a sector-wide globally significant challenge.

‘Supporting skills development is at the core of C4NET’s purpose, hence we’re delighted to support both Deakin and UE’s innovation leadership, and in doing so contributing to the students’ development. Let’s hope for some of them it will be the first step of a long career in the energy sector. Initiatives like this create a unique opportunity to bring new thinking to the sector and highlights the benefits of enabled collaboration between universities, industry and government. For electricity providers and consumers, this means that it is real customer behaviour that informs the design of the energy grids and markets of the future.’

Further information about the project, and a complete list of academic mentors and student members awarded a monetary prize for their efforts, can be found here.

Photography by Simon Peter Fox Photography

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