At least how it looks now, the future of mobility will be electric. E-mobility is the keyword in automotive trends in 2022.
But what about the trends in EV charging software, EV charging stations and EV charging solutions?
While new trends in electric cars or e-mobility make headlines, there are few public discussions about the technical aspect of EV charging itself.
That is why we at Tridens Technology, one of the leading companies for Smart EV Charging Management Software, want to share our views on some more technical trends that we can expect in 2022.
Here are five trends we will see in EV charging software, charging stations and charging infrastructure, plus one which is not a trend per se but often neglected important key for the success of EV charging networks.
PLUG & CHARGE WITH ISO 15118 STANDARD
The ISO 15118 standard specifies the communication between Electric Vehicles (EV), including fully Electric Vehicles and Plug-In Hybrids, and charging stations or the Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) as we officially call them.
Nowadays, most charging stations require the user to identify himself before charging the vehicle. Verification has to be done over an application with a credit card, RDIF card, phone call, SMS, or other means of communication with that specific charging point provider. Only after that can he charge the EV, monitor the charging progress, and get billed for the service.
What ISO 15118 standard and Tridens Plug & Charge software enable is simplified authorization so that the car and charging stations can communicate with each other without the user.
How does this work in a real-time environment?
Before the first charging, the user must set up a profile in the Tridens EV charge application and connect it to the specific car. The next time he wants to charge his EV, he plugs it at the charging station; the charger will recognize the car, charge it, and automatically bill it to the user’s account. Of course, the user can monitor everything through the Tridens EV Charge application, set up a specific charge volume for desired driving range (number of miles or kilometers), or set another specific battery threshold for his EV.
How far is the development of Plug & Charge?
While the software is already available, we hope this trend really kicks off in 2022 because it is very limited with the number of car manufacturers and charging stations that enable the Plug & Charge function.
Now only Tesla uses this function by default, but it’s limited to Tesla’s charging points and Tesla cars. With Tesla opening its charging stations to other brands and its drivers charging on other charge points that don’t support Tesla’s Plug & Charge, we hope this will be the number one trend of 2022 in e-mobility.
TREND 2: SMART EV CHARGING
The basic idea behind Smart EV charging is that the users or providers of charging points can adjust the charging output, timing, and duration of EV charging. This is made possible by sharing information between electric vehicles, charging stations, and charging operators.
When talking about smart charging, it can be divided into two charging management systems. The first system is the User-managed charging (UMC), where the user is in control and decides (via smart charging app) the charging parameters.
The second management option is the Supplier-managed charging (SMC), where charging providers adjust the charging parameters according to different situations. A smart SMC will make decisions according to real-time energy production, load balancing, local energy consumption, and electrical infrastructure capabilities, to name a few. This monitoring aims to optimize energy consumption and flatten electricity usage in peak hours. Shifting the vehicle charging away from the peak is essential in preventing grid overload and enabling the electricity to be used by other users (industry, homes, etc.).
The shift to renewable energy
Also, with the rise of environmental, renewable energy, a new problem has arrived. The energy from renewable sources like water, solar, and wind is highly volatile since it depends mostly on the weather. For electricity producers and electrical infrastructure, it is important that users can respond in real-time to increased or lowered supply of available electricity. EV charging has an excellent opportunity to help manage the electricity supply and demand changes if managed correctly. But to achieve this, the EV charging systems must be equipped with cloud-based Smart EV Charging Management Software.
Rewards instead of restrictions
With Supplier-managed charging (SMC), these goals could be achieved easily with charging restrictions in peak times, but it would not provide a good user experience for EV owners. That is why an excellent Smart EV Charging Management Software must have the ability to provide the users with rewards if they decide to charge in off-peak hours. With inbuilt monetization and billing software, the users can choose when to charge, how fast they want to charge, or select different charging and subscription plans (basic, VIP,…) and save money on charging. This will become an essential key of any charging business model for all providers as we move from day/night pricing to real-time smart charging according to electricity supply and location of charging.
TREND 3: VEHICLE-TO-GRID (V2G) TECHNOLOGY:
Often in connection with Smart charging, you will hear the term Vehicle-To-Grid (V2G) Technology or even V2X (vehicle to everything), V2H (vehicle to home), and V2B (vehicle to building).
Because electric cars are basically mobile electricity storage units, the idea is to use the stored energy and return it to the grid when necessary. In theory, that would mean that you charge your car when the rates are low, for instance, during the night, and return the power to the grid with discharge when electricity demand is high and prices higher. So you could charge your car overnight, plug it in the charging station at work and allow the station to use the battery as a source of electricity when needed, leaving you with enough power to drive around at the end of the workday. By doing that, EVs would help flatten the electricity usage curves and earn the owner of EV extra money in price difference.
V2G users concerns
This technology is interesting in theory, but some significant concerns make us believe users will not accept it in reality. The primary user concern is that the frequent charging and discharging will shorten the lifecycle of the car’s battery, which is something no EV car owner wants. Some studies suggest this is not true, but probably the users will be hard to persuade.
The other fear EV users frequently address with V2G technology is that it is hard to foresee future trips, and user behavior studies show most EV owners prefer their car to be at full charge whenever possible. While it is possible to adjust the battery to not discharge under, let’s say, 70% or 80%, it is still questionable if users will embrace V2G technology. Probably the only chance to do so is if they can make some solid profit with it.
These user-based concerns and the fact that you also need cars and charging stations to support V2G technology make us believe this trend will not be widely accepted, at least not shortly. At Tridens, we are prepared to implement V2G technology in our EV charging software, even if we are sceptical about it.
TREND 4: Move to Open Charge Point Protocol – OCPP 2.0.1
The Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) is a protocol developed in 2009 for communication between an EV Charging Station and a central Back Office system. It is an open standard used internationally without charge and license requirements. OCPP is supported by most of the most influential EV industry companies, such as utilities, Charging Station manufacturers, Charge Point Operators (CPOs), and back-office software suppliers. The OCPP standard enables operators and vendors of charging infrastructure to select and supply charging stations to their selected CPOs. OCPP also allows technological companies like Tridens to develop software solutions around such protocol.
OCPP 1.6 is the previous version of the open protocol and is most commonly used in EV charging systems. While OCPP 2.0 and the latest version, OCPP 2.0.1, are already used by software development companies, some hardware providers are still somewhat behind. The most significant improvements of OCPP 2.0.1. compared to versions 2.0 and 1.6 are (source: Open Charge Alliance):
Added features to get and set configurations and monitor a Charging Station. This was a long-awaited feature, especially welcomed by Charging Station Operators who manage complex multi-vendor (DC fast) charging stations.
Improved Transaction handling:
It is especially welcomed by Charging Station Operators who manage large numbers of charging stations and transactions.
The new protocol version sees the addition of secure firmware updates, security logging, and event notification, and security profiles for authentication (key management for client-side certificates) and secure communication (TLS).
Added Smart Charging functionalities:
For topologies with an Energy Management System (EMS), a local controller, and integrated smart charging of the EV, charging station, and Charging Station Management System.
Support for ISO 15118:
The support of ISO 15118 standard was added regarding plug-and-charge and smart charging requirements from the EV.
Display and messaging support:
To provide the EV driver with information on the display regarding rates and tariffs.
The implementation of OCPP 2.0.1. in the year 2022 is of significant importance, especially regarding the Plug & Charge function, which is not possible on version 1.6. Although Tesla already has Plug & Charge function, it doesn’t feature the OCPP protocol. With Tesla planning to open up some of its charging stations to other automakers and Plug & Charge being seen as an essential function of EV charging, the hardware producers (and Tesla) will need to step up and move as soon as possible to OCPP2.0.1 protocol.
All the major EV charging software developers already did it, and Tridens is no exception since it’s already OCPP 2.01 certified.
TREND 5: Charging the parking overstay and parking sensors
For an EV driver, it’s not always easy to find a free EV charger, and with growing numbers of electric cars, the problem is getting bigger. If in the past the main problem were regular cars (ICE) that were blocking the parking sport in front of chargers, now the growing problem is users of EVs that don’t move the vehicle once they completed the charging. The driver applications show the charger is free, but the parking space is actually occupied by an ICE vehicle or an EV car that is not charging anymore.
That creates a problem for EV drivers not being able to charge the car and for CPOs that lose revenue when no one is charging.
So the challenge for CPOs has now become how to let the users know if a charger is actually available and how to deal with customers that remain parked after charging?
The EV industry is addressing this problem in two ways. First, some new charging stations have parking sensors that detect if a parked vehicle is blocking the station. If it happens, they will notify the driver app and mark the station as occupied. It will not solve the problem, but at least it will be less frustrating than arriving at a “free” charging point only to see it blocked by a parked car.
Dealing with ICE vehicles blocking the charge points remains a challenge, but at least with EVs, the CPOs have a solution. After an EV completes charging, the owner gets a push notification through the app. In the message, he also gets notified how much time he has to remove the vehicle, or the CPO will start to charge him an additional fee for every minute over that time. It’s not a new solution, but for sure, we will see it used more and more in 2022.
TREND +1: MAINTAINANCE
Our last “trend” is, in reality, not a trend but a warning of what we will also face in 2022, and that is the increasing number of poorly maintained and not working charging stations. With new stations rapidly building, the question is who will maintain them? Many charging stations are and will be built in different sorts of EU and government programs or by local communities or startups. Because most current business models for EV charging currently don’t make a profit (see our blog), it is a question of who will finance the maintenance and repairs to keep them operational? As we can see from user reports, many charging stations are already being neglected or out of operation, which adds to the frustration of owning an electric car and is not a good way to promote electric vehicles and e-mobility.