Behavioral Research

What role does human behavior play in smart charging?

In addition to researching and developing the technical and organizational aspects of smart charging, it is important to look at the human side of it. After all, the acceptance and adoption of smart charging by EV drivers is crucial to its success. ElaadNL conducts behavioral research within various projects.

Smart charging

We are used to electricity being fully available at all times. You put the plug in the socket and the electricity starts flowing. We charge our phone until it reads ‘100%’. However, in the near future, when we charge electric cars in large numbers and simultaneously, this will change. We will connect the car to the charging station, but the car will only start charging at the optimal time. For example: in a time of overcapacity of energy from locally generated renewable energy, combined with a low demand for energy from households and a lower energy price. Electric cars can then charge even faster and cheaper. Our goal is to let technology do most of the work. This ensures that the car battery is sufficiently charged by the time the rider wants to leave.

The role of the EV driver

More and more people drive electric and charge their car in their own driveway, at public charging stations in the street, at work or at fast chargers that can now be found throughout the Netherlands. How do EV drivers experience this new way of smart charging? And how do we maximize participation? How can we develop smart charging as user-friendly as possible? These questions must be answered to make smart charging successful. Reliable information from EV drivers can provide direction for possible solutions and policies. In addition, behavioral research provides insight into the knowledge, experience and opinion of EV drivers about smart charging. The EV driver plays a central role here and it is important that the user’s voice is heard.

Themes within Behavioral Research

ElaadNL investigates the following topics, among others:

  • What motivates people to charge their car smartly? What barriers to smart charging do people experience? When we have a better understanding of these factors, it can be used and considered in the development of smart charging techniques and solutions.
  • What incentives or rewards can encourage people to charge smartly? Right now, most smart charging pilots focus on financial incentives. Is this the only way to encourage people, or are other ways of rewarding or encouraging more effective?
  • How important is ease of use and control for EV drivers? It is important to know whether people are willing to play an active role or whether they want smart charging to be controlled automatically as much as possible.
  • Which target groups can we distinguish? Not all EV drivers will have the same attitude to smart charging and modified approaches may be needed.

Behavioral Research Projects

ElaadNL is already conducting behavioral research within various smart charging projects. Methods used are large-scale questionnaires, in-depth interviews, simulations and observation.

Dutch Charging Survey

In the Dutch Charging Survey, we investigate the opinions and experiences of (smart) charging of approximately 1800 drivers of electric vehicles. In this way we gain insight into the extent to which EV drivers are familiar with smart charging, how they experience smart charging and what their wishes and needs are within the development of smart charging. We repeat this survey every year.

Slim laden achter de meter

In the study ‘In-house Smart charging’, together with our partners, we examined how people experience network control in their own home and how people charge at full speed with an ‘overrule button’. With smart control, for example, the car charges faster when there is a lot of solar energy and less during peak hours for households. Participants always have the option to stop the flexibility and load regularly. In addition to an analysis of the actual charging behaviour, the researchers of ‘In-house Smart charging’ also entered into discussions with participants to zoom in more accurately on motivations and choices made.

Faster charging outside peak hours

Within the tender for charging stations in Overijssel and Gelderland, we are investigating how people charge faster outside peak hours and experience slower charging during peak hours. In addition, we are testing various stimulation measures in this pilot. This practical trial into Smart Charging is unique in size and special with so many parties participating in it. This research contributes to the energy transition, clean air and less CO2 emissions.

Together with car drivers, we are investigating how this works in practice. Locally generated renewable energy is used as much as possible through cooperation with local energy cooperatives.

By smartly charging our cars, we make optimal use of sustainable energy and the electricity grid. In addition, we charge our cars quickly and affordably. To achieve all this, behavioral research is crucial and the reason that ElaadNL is researching this.