Infrastructure Planning for Electric Vehicles with Battery Swapping
59 Pages Posted: 15 Mar 2012 Last revised: 20 Jul 2014
Date Written: March 14, 2012
The transportation sector is a major source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. As a step toward a greener environment, solutions involving electric vehicles (EVs) have been proposed and discussed. When powered by electricity from efficient and environmentally-friendly generators, EVs have significantly lower per-mile running costs compared to gasoline cars, while generating lower emissions. Unfortunately, due to the limited capacity of batteries, typical EVs can only travel for about 100 miles on a single charge. Because recharging takes several hours, it is impossible to recharge an EV in the middle of a long (round) trip exceeding 100 miles. Better Place (BP), a start-up based in Palo Alto, CA, proposed a novel strategy that potentially overcomes the recharging problem. In the plan, in addition to charging adaptors at homes, work places and shopping malls, "swapping stations'', at which depleted batteries can be exchanged for recharged ones in the middle of long trips, will be located at strategic locations along freeways. With its battery swapping equipment, BP has demonstrated how to effectively refuel an EV in less than two minutes.
The possible success of EV solutions based on the idea of battery swapping hinges on the ability of the charging service provider (BP or other similar firms) to deploy a cost-effective infrastructure network with comprehensive coverage. Unfortunately, since the adoption rate of electric vehicles, and thus demand for swapping service, is still highly uncertain, the service provider must make deployment plans with incomplete information on hand. In this paper, we develop models that aid the planning process for deploying battery swapping infrastructure, based on a robust optimization framework. We further show that our models can be tightly approximated by mixed-integer second-order cone programs (MISOCPs), which are readily solvable by commercial solvers. Using these models, we demonstrate the potential impacts of battery standardization and various technology advancements on the optimal infrastructure deployment strategy.
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