Open Standards Opportunities: Electric Vehicle Charging Technology

Posted on June 17th, 2015

As the sales of electric vehicles in America increase, the collective need to build, operate and supply charging stations represents an opportunity for open standards.
The Energy Collective
While the sale of electric vehicles represent a small percentage of overall vehicle sales in America, their numbers have skyrocketed over the past few years. As sales increase, the collective need to build, operate and supply charging stations represents an opportunity for open standards. Edward Dodge posted recently about this on the Energy Collective Blog, following the work of Greenlots, a leading advocate for open standards in EV charging. Greenlots’ platform allows for demand response communication to help manage power on the grid with utilities providers. In order to manage power efficiently, there needs to be a communications layer interfacing between charging stations and central utility management. This layer, commonly called Automated Demand Response (ADR), “is simply the use of computers and internet communications to enable demand response to be completely automated and seamless to the user,” and presents an opportunity for open standards to facilitate communications. There is already some work being done here; Greenlots is a member of the OpenADR Alliance, a 130-member consortium dedicated to open standards for the Smart Grid. According to the article:

OpenADR is a communications protocol that standardizes messaging for dynamic price and reliability signals used by utilities, Independent Systems Operators and other participants on the power grid. OpenADR hopes to bring network protocol standardization to power grids globally, much in the same way that TCP/IP enables all devices on the internet to speak the same language.

OCPP is a communications layer between EV charging stations and central management systems [created by OpenADR]. OCPP is an emerging specification that is not formally recognized by international standards bodies nor adopted across the entire EV industry. There is great hope that OCPP will emerge as an international standard ensuring that hardware can operate across vendors’ networks and prevent customers being stuck with useless equipment should their vendor go out of business.

In an emerging market like electric vehicles, a commitment to open standards is commendable. In the pursuit of new solutions, we encourage consortia such as OpenADR Alliance to embrace the OpenStand Principles of cooperation, adherence to standards, collective empowerment, and voluntary adoption as they move forward to pursue national and international standardization.

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