Transportation and Energy Storage
We focus on developing various tools, analysis and design capacities to address the growing and complex needs of transportation systems with conventional, hybrid-electric and pure electric vehicles.
Renewable electricity prices plummeted 80% between 2010 and 2019 to reach about $0.03/kWh. Wholesale power prices in several organized markets in the US are at historical lows driven partly by low natural gas prices. Additionally, battery prices (specifically, Li ion) have fallen 85% since 2010 to 2020 to about $150/kWh and are expected to decline to $100 per kWh in the next few years. Given this context, cost effective electrification of different vehicle segments including cars, public transit buses (both intra-city and inter-city) and commercial freight vehicles including class-8 trucks is not beyond reach with more targeted R&D and policy support. Our work of transportation and sustainability falls under the following three broad areas. Our geographic focus is global but with additional focus emphasis in the U.S., the state of California, China and India.
Behavior Energy Autonomy Mobility (BEAM) is an open-source, modular software framework that enables efficient, scalable simulation of regional transportation systems. It allows transportation planners and service providers to simulate traveler behavior and technology deployment to understand congestion, energy, and emission implications of novel mobility technologies and services from individual scale to entire transportation systems.
One set of projects is focused on a detailed estimation of total cost of ownership of electric vehicles for cars, buses, trains and trucks in different geographic markets. We use both detailed bottom-up component level estimation of vehicle production cost and also top-down incremental cost analysis that simply focuses on differences between internal combustion engines and EVs. Our work shows how targeting high-mileage users and vehicle segments is counter-intuitively more economical notwithstanding the conventional wisdom about range anxiety and charging barriers and cost suggesting a greater focus on low vehicle miles traveled (VMT) applications.
- The Case for All New City Buses in India to be Electric, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Report, December 2018
- Long-haul battery electric trucks are technically feasible and economically compelling Working Paper, International Energy Studies Group, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, 2019
- Big Batteries on Wheels - The economic, environmental, and resilience case for rapidly converting diesel locomotives to battery-electric. 2019.
- California semi truck electrification: Preliminary assessment of infrastructure needs and cost-benefit analysis, 2019
We are also focused on simulating the charging infrastructure needs for electrification of intra-city and inter-city buses, taxis and trucks in different geographic regions: New York, San Francisco, New Delhi and the state of California as a whole. Data on actual taxi trips, public transit bus schedules and freight movement along highways is being used to simulate these trips using electric vehicles and estimate the minimum charging infrastructure, the cost of service and environmental impacts without sacrificing timely movement of people, goods and services.
- Electrifying Urban Ridesourcing Fleets at No Added Cost through Efficient Use of Charging Infrastructure, Transportation Research Part C, 2019 Vol. 105, August 2019
- Estimating the charging infrastructure for electrifying heavy duty long-haul freight in the US (work in progress)
ZEV adoption and diffusion can occur more rapidly than currently underway, with fewer provided subsidies that are targeted to the right sectors and with proper policy support. We target adoption by high-use and commercial vehicles rather than private household vehicles.
Two key specific sectors - commercial automobile fleets (taxi, uber and ola) and passenger buses (public and private, intra-inter-city) are particularly ripe for a complete transition to electric vehicles. These two sectors need minimal subsidies, but they need a significant investment in charging infrastructure and some complementary policies that do not entail substantial budgetary outlay.
We are analyzing which aspects of EV adoption and support in China, Europe and the U.S. are relevant to less wealthier countries, such as India and other developing countries with unique economic, social and political context, and which aspects may need a different approach. We are also analyzing how electricity pricing needs to be rethought for electrification of commercial vehicles specifically, heavy duty trucking.
Selected Publications and Media
- Pivoting from vehicle subsidies to subsidies per clean mile
- How inefficient electricity pricing hampers electric vehicle adoption
- Private cars must be part of EV policy push, Business Line, 11-Mar-2020
- Time to usher in the EV Revolution, Business Line, 28-Feb- 2019
- A shot in the arm for electric mobility, Business Line, 1-Apr-2019
India is pushing hard to electrify its automobile market, aiming to sell only electric vehicles (EVs) by 2030. But what impact will that shift have on the country’s utilities and the grid? A new report by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has found that the prospective EV expansion will deliver economic benefits, help integrate renewable energy, and significantly reduce imports of foreign oil.
Dramatic cost reductions over the last decade in battery storage and wind and solar energy position India to leapfrog to a more sustainable system for delivering affordable and reliable power to serve near a doubling in electricity demand by 2030, according to a new study by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab).
When it comes to electric vehicles, particularly for heavy-duty trucks, the limitations of battery technology are often seen as the main barrier to widespread adoption. However, a new analysis concludes that it’s the lack of appropriate policies around adoption incentives, charging infrastructure, and electricity pricing that prevents widespread electrification of commercial trucking fleets.