Within the context of different energy transition pathways for the city of St. Gallen, Switzerland, the Laboratory for Energy Conversion is conducting holistic assessments that account for different technological, economic, societal, and political drivers.

EnerPol, the Laboratory for Energy Conversion’s integrated simulation framework, includes GPU-enabled, agent-based population and traffic models, which account for individual characteristics and behaviour, and power flow models for all distribution grid components including individual customers and Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs). A techno-economic assessment of the required charging infrastructure in St. Gallen is being simulated for scenarios through 2030. Agent-based simulations of the entire Swiss population, including cross-border commuters, are used to quantify all individual daily commuting patterns. Country-scale agent-based traffic simulations, with different penetrations of BEVs, are used to determine when, where and how individual BEVs must be recharged. Stochastic human behaviour models simulate the charging patterns and preferences of BEV drivers including the price sensitivities of drivers. The outcomes are evaluated on a geo-referenced digital model of the distribution grid of St. Gallen Stadtwerke. At today’s penetration of BEVs, publicly available chargers are underutilised, and there is no business case for the infrastructure. Charging drivers by parking duration yields a faster payback of the initial costs in the infrastructure. As human behaviour has a considerable impact on these outcomes, legislators may consider policies that can steer customers’ choices to improve the profitability of the infrastructure. (Outcomes from this study have been presented at the 2018 European Energy Market conference.)

Locations of public chargers in St Gallen and predicted load factors for different penetrations of BEVs at two charging stations (solid line: price-driven behavior; dashed line: comfort-driven behavior)

The ESC member involved in this project is Prof. Dr. Reza Abhari. Other researchers involved are Dr. Ndaona Chokani and Marco Pagani, as well as Dipl. Ing. Wolfgang Korosec from St. Gallen Stadtwerke.

Professor Reza Abhari has been full professor of energy technologies and the Director of Laboratory for Energy Conversion (LEC) at ETH Zurich since 1999. His group focuses in research on developing break-through technologies for a broad range of scientific and technological areas with societal impact. Current research involves analytical, computational and experimental research and education related to technology and economics of turbomachinery, gas turbine technology, wind energy, power generation systems, aerospace, advanced diagnostic sensor and actuator technologies, and semiconductor industries.