We are witnessing another industrial revolution. The rapidly evolving e-mobility industry is bringing more and more electric vehicles (EVs) onto the market that help us shift away from gasoline and diesel cars and mitigate climate change — one of the biggest challenges humanity is facing to date.
As part of the European Green Deal, the EU Commission¹ is raising its emission reduction target to at least 55% by 2030, compared to 1990, and countries like the UK will phase out new petrol and diesel cars by 2030. The Biden administration in the US set out a plan for a clean energy revolution and will support the deployment of more than 500,000 new public charging stations² by the end of 2030. China plans to phase out conventional gasoline cars by 2035³.
As a result, the global EV market is forecast to reach 179 million units by 20304. This means the demand in reliable EV charging infrastructure will rise dramatically over the coming years.
The challenge of the EV charger industry
Yet, today, the EV charging ecosystem is facing numerous problems aside from an insufficient amount of charging infrastructure, which leave the end customer frustrated. We see:
- A lack of reliability due to malfunctioning and outdated software, which leads to communication errors between EVs, charging stations, and the cloud-based management systems.
- A lack of real-time point-of-interest (POI) data telling us whether or not a charger is available or how fast you can charge your car at a specific charging station.
- A lack of user-friendliness, as EV drivers still need to manage several RFID cards or smartphone apps from a variety of mobility service providers, simply to start a charging session.
- And last but not least, a lack of data security, which makes it easy for hackers to mess with your charging bill and run a remote attack on our critical charging infrastructure.
The standards and effort behind a seamless charging experience
The fact is that it’s hard for charging station manufacturers (accustomed to sheet metal bending, electric circuits, and analogue signaling) to keep up the necessary pace and develop digital charging solutions for a user-friendly, interoperable, and innovative charging infrastructure.
We all know that a seamless EV charging experience is key to a quick uptake of EVs. And it shouldn’t be that hard to build reliable, user-friendly charging stations so that you can simply recharge your EV’s battery, right?
Well, for the layperson, this is a very understandable view. Yet, when you look closer at all the communication protocols, interfaces, and processes involved in charging an EV and billing the energy to the end customer, you would be surprised how much effort is actually involved.
Here’s a list of the most essential communication protocols:
ISO 15118 — EV to charger communication
In a nutshell, ISO 15118 is an international standard that outlines the digital communication protocol that an EV and charging station should use to recharge the EV’s high-voltage battery. ISO 15118 is part of the Combined Charging System (CCS), which is becoming the globally dominant EV standard for all kinds of EVs, be it motorbikes, cars, trucks and buses, or even ships and airplanes. With Porsche Taycan and Audi e-tron, we’ll finally see ISO 15118 coming to market in November of this year.
OCPP — Charger to backend communication
The de facto standard for managing charging stations through a cloud-based charging station management system (CSMS) is the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP). The newest version, 2.0.1, was released in March 2020 and is the successor of OCPP 1.6. The reasons to switch from 1.6 to 2.0.1 are manifold, among them a native support for ISO 15118, stronger data security, and a new concept called Device Model. The Device Model allows a charger to automatically report all its components (e.g., EVSEs, connectors, controllers) to the CSMS. No more need to manually configure a new charging station. Extensive monitoring is another strong suit of OCPP 2.0.1, as you can define monitors on a charger’s components that notify the CSMS when a threshold is exceeded (e.g., temperature sensor) or a value changes by more than a predefined amount. It’s also possible to do periodic monitoring of values all the time or only when a transaction is ongoing. The possibilities are endless.
OCPI, OICP, OCHP — Roaming connects CPOs with MSPs
When you authorize yourself at a charging station, the charge point operator (CPO) who uses the CSMS to manage the charging stations will have to contact your mobility service provider (MSP) to check whether or not your credentials are valid. We’re all accustomed to RFID cards as credentials; with ISO 15118, it’s your MSP’s contract certificate that gets installed into the EV automatically. Once the charging process is finished, the charging station communicates charge detail records (CDRs) — that is, info about kWh charged and time spent at a charger — to the CSMS, which the CPO needs to forward to your MSP to settle the billing. This is where roaming comes into play to connect CPOs and MSPs. This is facilitated, for example, via roaming platforms like Hubject — using Hubject’s Open InterCharge Protocol, OICP — or the widespread Open Charge Point Interface (OCPI), which also allows peer-to-peer roaming.
For the remainder of this article, let’s focus on the communication link between the EV and the charger as well as the charger and the CSMS.
A charging station manufacturer who wants to sell CCS-compatible chargers needs to make sure to support ISO 15118-2 and Plug & Charge to keep up with the growing list of tenders that demand this technology. And although OCPP 1.6 still does the trick for some, let’s be reminded that it’s more error-prone, less secure, and less powerful than its successor, OCPP 2.0.1.
As we mentioned above, the majority of charging station manufacturers have a hard time keeping up with finding the right talent and investing the money into implementing and properly testing (which accounts for at least 50% of the effort) these essential communication protocols. And, frankly speaking, as essential as communication technologies like ISO 15118 and OCPP 2.0.1 are, sooner than later they will become commodities rather than unique selling propositions. A charger manufacturer’s core business is not to write code, but to design and manufacture the most aesthetic, functional, cost-effective, user-friendly, and reliable chargers on the market. So, why try to reinvent the wheel?
A flexible and future-proof operating system for AC & DC chargers
Wouldn’t it be great if there was someone to challenge the status quo by creating a flexible operating system for EV chargers? A holistic concept that frees manufacturers from the complexity that comes with implementing and testing future-proof communication standards like ISO 15118 and OCCP 2.0.1?
Well, meet JOSEV. JOSEV is V2G Clarity’s* approach to a Joint Operating System for EV chargers.
Our easy-to-use interface for third-party modules allows manufacturers to focus on their USPs and design reliable and user-friendly charging stations. It’s flexible enough so you can add your own modules for OCPP 1.6, maybe a smart load balancer, or for controlling the user interface on the charger’s display. With our tailored Linux builds, we also make sure to support a variety of hardware platforms to avoid any lock-in effect. JOSEV will come with secure and regular over-the-air updates to make sure your charger is booting the correct and trusted software.
This is a major project and we need your support to make it happen. You can find more information about the detailed features of JOSEV and back our crowdfunding campaign at josev.v2g-clarity.com. Get in touch with me to find the best solution for your company.
Together, we can accelerate the transition to clean transportation and create a seamless and user-friendly charging experience for EV drivers.
About the Author: Dr. Marc Mültin is a recognized e-mobility expert with over a decade in the field. He co-authored ISO 15118-2, ISO 15118-20, and OCPP 2.0.1. He also developed RISE V2G, the widely used and intensively tested open-source implementation of ISO 15118-2. Through his ISO 15118 Manual, training sessions, and online courses he helps companies across the globe to properly implement ISO 15118’s Plug & Charge feature. He has completely dedicated his professional life to removing technical barriers for the EV charging industry and helping accelerate EV uptake across the globe.
All images provided by V2G Clarity.
*This article is supported by V2G Clarity.
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