Call for greater interoperability between EV charging networks

Greater 'interoperability' between EV charging networks in the UK should be an industry priority, according to a report from the Renewable Energy Association (REA).

Call for greater interoperability between EV charging networks

The REA represents around 70 companies operating in the UK’s EV charging sector including energy suppliers, manufacturers, charge point installers and operators, and financiers.

At present consumers need multiple apps, cards, and sometimes membership accounts in order to travel across the country using public charging infrastructure. This can be a hassle and potential deterrent for future EV drivers. Meanwhile, the Government has outlined an ambition for the UK to have one of the best charging infrastructure networks in the world.

According to the report, greater interoperability, which would entail EV charging network companies using similar communications systems, could facilitate a superior consumer experience in the UK. It could also set the stage for advanced functions, such as being able to see live status updates of chargers across different networks, to be able to be billed more simply, and even for the vehicle itself to manage the payment process.

Dr Nina Skorupska CBE, chief executive of the REA, said: “Tackling the urgent issue of interoperability between charging networks has implications for consumers, for the energy system, and for the ability for a wide range of market actors to embrace electric vehicles.

“In the Road to Zero strategy the Government stated an ambition for the UK to have one of the best charging infrastructure networks in the world. In our minds, and in the minds of our members, interoperability is crucial to delivering that vision.”

Daniel Brown, Policy Manager at the REA and report author commented: “As the number of actors in the UK’s EV charging sector is quickly expanding, and the size of the public charging network poised to significantly grow, now is the time for the sector to come together and discuss industry-led solutions to interoperability that can be supported by Government.”

“If our members embraced similar communications protocols and standards, customers in the future could be able to access live data in their vehicle dashboards or phone apps on charge point status, they could charge through their vehicle without the need for an app or card, and their vehicles could more easily help manage strains on the electricity system.”

Interoperability may also be key to supporting fleets to go electric, which is a key step towards building a mass market. It is also an important factor for landowners and managers who wish to see infrastructure deployed on their premises.

Specifically, the report outlines:

  • Interoperability is key to achieving the Government’s ambitions of ‘creating one of the best charging infrastructure networks in the world’.
  • That there is presently an opportunity for the UK to ‘leapfrog’ other nations in the development of their charging infrastructure by acting on lessons learnt elsewhere.
  • That there is a need for an industry-led definition of interoperability that can be adopted by Government.
  • The Open Charge Point Interface (OCPI) should be investigated as to its possible suitability to be the UK industry standard roaming protocol.
  • The ISO 15118 standard should be investigated to see if it’s adoption by charging companies can facilitate smarter charging and energy services by allowing vehicles to communicate with charge points and smart energy systems.

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