Future-proof charging infrastructureFuture-proof charging infrastructure

Munich, 23 July 2020

The future of mobility is electric. But the environmentally friendly and quiet electric cars need to be recharged before the journey. To ensure that charging is quick and safe and seamlessly integrated into the local energy supply, countless processes run in the background. Open and standardized interfaces between the vehicle, charging station and back-end as well as energy management systems guarantee that charging infrastructure can grow and constantly improve with the increasing success of electric mobility. This way a future-proof charging infrastructure is guaranteed. Reason enough to dedicate a series to these invisible helpers. 

The first part is dedicated to OCPP – the common language between charging stations and their management systems.

Why the Open Charge Point Protocol OCPP has become the standard for charging electric cars

As soon as an electric car starts its charging process, an extensive data transfer between the charging point and the CPO/MSP back-end system connected to it starts in the background: Among other things, the user and billing data for the charging current as well as the start and end of the charging process and the amount of energy consumed are transmitted to the contractual partner or the operator of the infrastructure. Fleet managers can use back-end systems to monitor the status and occupancy of all charging points in real time, keep an eye on the staggering of loads, perform regular analyses, and receive fault reports. Software updates or changes in the configuration of a charging point can also be conveniently uploaded to the charging station via data transfer.  

The increasing importance of OCPP is also evident from the fact that OCPP controllability of charging infrastructure is becoming a mandatory standard in certain areas, such as the Hamburg and Norderstedt grid area.

The quality seal of the Open Charge Alliance

The Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP), a manufacturer-neutral, license-free communication protocol established as a worldwide standard, is the optimal solution for reliable and efficient monitoring and managing these various tasks. OCPP was initiated by the Open Charge Alliance (OCA), an international partnership of more than 160 companies from the electromobility industry, which The Mobility House has also joined. As a seal of quality, the OCA introduced a certificate in 2019 so that interested parties can see at a glance whether a charging station is guaranteed to be compatible with OCPP. This certificate ensures that all market participants have implemented the protocol equally and completely. Currently, almost all leading manufacturers equip their charging stations with OCPP-capable technology.

OCPP offers several advantages over other standards (such as Modbus) and proprietary protocols: The charging points can fully communicate with all OCPP-capable CPO/MSP back-end systems, while the data is protected by encryption. Thanks to continuous developments, customers receive a future-proof and cost-efficient charging infrastructure and can add further software and hardware components from various manufacturers at any time.

Focus on latest edition and the implementation of all functionalities 

However, it must be ensured that charging stations speak the latest version of the Open Charge Point protocol. This is version 1.6. The standard must also be implemented in its full form as defined by the OCA. This means the core including all functionalities such as firmware management, smart charging, reservation, local authorization list management and remote trigger. Only if a generally applicable communication standard is specified can the charging stations also be efficiently integrated into the power grid at the appropriate time. This is guaranteed with the current OCPP, which will be converted into an ISO standard in the future. Otherwise, customers and energy suppliers/grid operators will be faced with additional costs at a later. 

The vast majority of charging station manufacturers speak this standard – with all the functionalities. It is important to explicitly specify the entire spectrum of all functionalities in tenders or orders. This is because some charging station manufacturers have so far only implemented the core, which makes intelligent control via the smart charging functionality impossible. In addition, the charging station cannot be updated at a later date if the firmware management functionality has not been implemented. This can then only be done, if at all, through a time-consuming/cost-intensive local on-site intervention.

The Mobility House & OCPP

The Mobility House interfacesThe Mobility House interfaces

ChargePilot, the intelligent Charging and Energy Management system from The Mobility House, also uses the OCPP protocol to control charging performance and thus works neutrally with a wide range of charging station manufacturers and CPO/MSP back-end providers. Via further open interfaces, ChargePilot can also be combined with many other infrastructure, network and building systems. This becomes even more important as soon as a larger number of electric cars are to be efficiently integrated into the power grid. This is already guaranteed with the current OCPP, which will be converted into a globally valid ISO standard in the future. This will prevent customers, energy suppliers and grid operators from incurring additional costs later.