Batteries half full? : an analysis of electric vehicles and a proposal for charging stations at the University of Virginia

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2012-05

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Electric Vehicles (EVs) have been hailed by some as a revolutionary new technology whose adoption will clean our air, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and change the way we drive. A key step to achieving this vision is the installation of charging stations, which EVs require if they run out of energy if not plugged in at special charging stations. Most charging will take place at home, but public charging stations are necessary to prevent EV drivers from getting stranded with no energy. Many universities across the country have installed charging stations on their campus, while enthusiastically embracing the above vision. This report examines the promise of EVs and makes is a proposal for the University of Virginia to also install charging stations. However, it finds that EVs present a much more complicated picture: there are as many downsides as upsides, and the weaknesses in demand call into question the actual need for charging stations. The report finds that a cost-benefit analysis is difficult, if not impossible. That said, the rest of the report looks at case studies from other universities to determine good practices for installing charging stations. Building from this analysis, the report offers five sample proposals, ranging in involvement from none to "aggressive" are proposed with the conclusion that a moderate amount of involvement is the recommended course. In the end, it seems wiser to err on the side of a sustainable future than to reject EVs before their full potential is known.

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