Electric vehicle charging in China's power system: Energy, economic and environmental trade-offs and policy implications

Chris Davis, Zofia Lukszo, Margot Weijnen, Ying Li*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

85 Citations (Scopus)


This work investigates different scenarios for electric vehicle (EV) deployment in China and explores the implications thereof with regard to energy portfolio, economics and the environment. Specifically, we investigate how to better deliver the value of EVs by improving designs in the power system and charging strategies, given expected developments by 2030 in both the power system and EV penetration levels. The impact of EV charging is quantified by applying an integrated transportation-power system model on a set of scenarios which represent uncertainties in charging strategies. We find that deploying EVs essentially shifts the use of gasoline to coal-fired power generation in China, thus leading to more coal consumption and CO2 emissions of the power system. Economically, EVs outperform gasoline-powered vehicles in terms of average fueling costs. However, the impact of EVs in terms of CO2 emissions at the national level largely depends on the charging strategy. Specifically, controlled charging results in more CO2 emissions associated with EVs than uncontrolled charging, as it tends to feed EVs with electricity produced by cheap yet low-efficiency coal power plants located in regions where coal prices are low. Still, compared with uncontrolled charging, controlled charging shows absolute advantages in: (1) mitigating the peak load arising from EV charging; (2) facilitating RES generation; and (3) reducing generation costs and EV charging costs. Hence, in light of this trade-off of controlled charging with the goals of energy security, economic efficiency and reducing environmental impacts, policy interventions in the Chinese power system should opt for controlled charging strategies in order to best realize the benefits of EVs. Accordingly, this paper proposes that increasing the use of cleaner forms of electricity generation, such as RES power and gas power, and establishing energy efficiency and CO2 emission regulations in power dispatch are critical for China. Lastly, this work illustrates what the optimized charging profiles from the power system perspective look like for different regions. These results can inform Chinese policy makers in creating a better integration of the transportation and the power system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)535-554
Number of pages20
JournalApplied Energy
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Charging
  • China
  • Electric vehicles
  • Energy-economic-environmental implications
  • Power system


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