With petroleum prices maintaining historic heights and a growing emphasis for more fuel/energy efficient vehicles, the transportation industry is in need of new ideas and innovation. On North Carolina State University’s Centennial Campus, where academia and research blend to foster future technology advances and change, plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) are dynamically launching a new research platform as part of a living laboratory.
Plug-in Electric Vehicles as a Solution
Understanding the scope and gravity of the problems transportation faces, NCSU teamed with Centennial Campus partner Advanced Energy to provide workplace electric vehicle charging to support the availability of first generation PEVs. This partnership launched a platform from which research on electric grid implications, user habits and charging demand can be analyzed. The aspect of living lab is complete in that commuters, students and visitors to Centennial Campus can travel emission and petroleum free, recharge, and continue their travel using one–fourth of the net energy required by petroleum fueled vehicles.
Enabling Innovation and Adoption
Advanced Energy leveraged the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and North Carolina State Energy Office (NCSEO) consumer adoption initiatives to offer $15,000 in incentives to early adopters toward the purchase of a Nissan LEAF in exchange for participation in Advanced Energy’s PEV Consumer Usage Study ($7,500 off of the purchase price and $7,500 in federal tax rebates). Also, in collaboration with Triangle J Council of Governments and DOE Clean Cities organizations, Advanced Energy worked with corporate campus partners in the North Carolina Research Triangle Area to deploy 24 charging stations and provide employee education on the benefits of electrified transportation through the Carolina Blue Skies Initiative.
Three Centennial Campus commuters are participants in Advanced Energy’s PEV Usage Study, which seeks to evaluate changes in driving and vehicle operating behaviors throughout a two-year period by collecting unique, specific data from 40 individual owners of the all-electric Nissan LEAF. Under the Carolina Blue Skies Initiative, NCSU installed 10 Level 2 PEV charging points at five different locations across campus.
Advanced Energy assisted the installation through site selection and education for interested employees. NCSU’s Centennial Campus charging stations have proven successful in accommodating campus PEVs, providing a living laboratory for research and development, and showcasing transportation energy alternatives in public spaces and roadways.
Next steps include attracting electric vehicle technology researchers to locate on and benefit from the unique synergistic opportunities on Centennial Campus. NCSU leadership plans to expand charging station availability to NCSU’s main campus and increase consideration of electric powered vehicles for University operations and maintenance.
Research among a variety of alternative energy solutions for transportation continues at the Centennial Campus. Electric powered transportation and supporting electric power infrastructure are an integral part of Centennial Campus’ next generation research and development.
Advanced Energy is a North Carolina and global resource that focuses on energy efficiency for commercial and industrial markets, electric motors and drives, plug-in transportation and applied building science. Their facility houses state-of-the-art laboratories, where testing and applied research is performed in all of these evolving disciplines. The FREEDM Systems Center houses the latest developments on Smart Grid Technology including vehicle to grid applications. ABB and other industry partners are continuing research and development on campus of next generation power systems security including micro grid operation for vehicle to grid applications. For more information on NCSU Centennial Campus partners, visit www.ncsu.edu/partners.