Zero-Emission Vehicle Intelligence (ZEVi): Effectively Charging Electric Vehicles at Scale Without Breaking Power Systems (or the Bank) (Tutorials Track) Spotlight

Shasha Lin (NextEra Mobility); Jonathan Brophy (NextEra Mobility); Tamara Monge (NextEra Mobility); Jamie Hussman (NextEra Mobility); Michelle Lee (NextEra Mobility); Sam Penrose (NextEra Mobility)

Tutorial Poster File Recorded Talk NeurIPS 2023 Poster Cite
Transportation Reinforcement Learning


Transportation contributes to 29% of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the US, of which 58% are from light-duty vehicles and 28% from medium-to-heavy duty vehicles (MHDVs) [1]. Battery electric vehicles (EVs) emit 90% less life cycle GHGs than their internal combustion engine (ICEV) counterparts [2], but currently only comprise 2% of all vehicles in the U.S. EVs thus represent a crucial step in decarbonizing road transportation. One major challenge in replacing ICEVs with EVs at scale is the ability to charge a large number of EVs within the constraints of power systems in a cost-effective way. This is an especially prominent problem for MHDVs used in commercial fleets such as shuttle buses and delivery trucks, as they generally require more energy to complete assigned trips compared to light-duty vehicles. In this tutorial, we describe the myriad challenges in charging EVs at scale and define common objectives such as minimizing total load on power systems, minimizing fleet operating costs, as well as maximizing vehicle state of charge and onsite photovoltaic energy usage. We discuss common constraints such as vehicle trip energy requirements, charging station power limits, and limits on vehicles’ time to charge between trips. We survey several different methods to formulate EV charging and energy dispatch as a mathematically solvable optimization problem, using tools such as convex optimization, Markov decision process (MDP), and reinforcement learning (RL). We introduce a commercial application of model-based predictive control (MPC) algorithm, ZEVi (Zero Emission Vehicle intelligence), which solves optimal energy dispatch strategies for charging sessions of commercial EV fleets. Using a synthetic dataset modeled after a real fleet of electric school buses, we engage the audience with a hands-on exercise applying ZEVi to find the optimal charging strategy for a commercial fleet. Lastly, we briefly discuss other contexts in which methods originating from process control and deep learning, like MPC and RL, can be applied to solve problems related to climate change mitigation and adaptation. With the examples provided in this tutorial, we hope to inspire the audience to come up with their own creative ways to apply these methods in different fields within the climate domain. References [1] EPA (2023). Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2021. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA 430-R-23-002. [2] Verma, S., Dwivedi, G., & Verma, P. (2022). Life cycle assessment of electric vehicles in comparison to combustion engine vehicles: A review. Materials Today: Proceedings, 49, 217-222.

Recorded Talk (direct link)