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Purdue and Google Cloud Partner in Electric Vehicle Charging Station Study

Although there has been over a 10% increase in the sales of electric vehicles (EV) and hybrid vehicles (HV) compared to light-duty vehicles, as reported by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) in February 2022, attention to charging stations in rural areas across the U.S. has lagged. Purdue University and Google Cloud have partnered, using Google's BigQuery and BigQuery GIS data sets, to show where rural areas need Level 3 DC Fast Charge Stations. This information can help public and private sectors plan investments to support equitable access to EVs to help reduce and eliminate carbon energy impacts.

Researchers at Purdue's Joint Transportation Research Program (JTRP), led by principal analyst Howell Li, analyzed 184 billion public urban and rural vehicle records of miles traveled across the U.S. by state, garnering information on EV and HV usage, occupancy, and "charge deserts" to determine underserved areas. Google's serverless BigQuery uses structured query language (SQL) to analyze data. (Visit Google Cloud's BigQuery FAQ page and BigQuery geospatial analytics page to learn more about how they work.)

One such analysis was of California, which has mandated all new vehicles sold to be zero emission by 2035. Maps generated by Carto show the number of vehicle miles traveled by day, and the number of charging stations available per vehicle. Gaps show where chargers are most needed.

electric vehicle charging map

"Our analysis of the data has shown that it can be 10 times less likely to find a charging plug during peak hours in rural counties than in urban areas such as Los Angeles," said Jijo Mathew, transportation research engineer at Purdue.

Locations for new Level 3 DC Fast Charge stations across the country will be determined by such research. Indiana included the researchers' data on 15 interstate exits as part of its draft State EV Implementation Plan in 2022 and submitted it to the Joint Office of the U.S. Departments of Energy and Transportation as part of the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) plan, a bipartisan project.

With the U.S. government set to invest $7.5 billion in new EV charging stations over the next five years across the country as part of addressing climate change, data sets such as those provided by Google's BigQuery and BigQuery GIS help provide deep insight into underserved areas.

"Currently, agencies across the country are working on tight schedules to propose electric vehicle charging infrastructure deployment plans to the U.S. Department of Transportation," said Jairaj Desai, Purdue transportation research engineer. "The increasing availability of real-world electric vehicle data, and the ability to intersect that data with widely available public data sets, enables stakeholders to make data-driven decisions for equitable multi-million dollar investments."

Purdue, a public land grant university, was established in Indiana in 1869 and currently has 13 colleges and schools and serves nearly 51,000 students. Visit the university's home page to learn more.

About the Author

Kate Lucariello is a former newspaper editor, EAST Lab high school teacher and college English teacher.

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