The findings from the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles' 2022 EV charging experience consultation are out. Is open data sharing the key to wider EV adoption?
With UK EV sales booming again last year, the industry is turning its focus to the charging experience.
Naturally there is pressure for infrastructure to keep up with demand. And with recent data showing that there are currently only an average of around 16 cars to one standard on-street charger, the SMMT’s Chief Executive Mike Hawes has gone on record to emphasise the need to ‘boost the roll out of public on-street charging with mandated targets’.
Mer’s own recent customer charging experience survey revealed that 30% of drivers don’t have access to home chargers – and are therefore reliant on the public network.
At the start of 2021, the government laid out four critical areas requiring focus to improve charging infrastructure for electric vehicles.
- Making it easy to pay – there should be a minimum standard across all charge points, so that drivers can charge and pay easily, regardless of journey length – and one that does not rely on a smartphone.
- Opening up EV charging data – to make it easy for drivers to find chargers, facilitate the development of consumer apps, encourage competition and innovation, and support system planning across the transport and electricity sectors.
- Use of a single payment metric – using pence-per-kilowatt hour (kWh) as the standard metric – to simplify understanding, and allow consumers to easily compare what they are paying at home with public network usage.
- A more reliable charging network: there needs to be a well maintained, reliable charging infrastructure with a 24/7 helpline.
And the Office for Zero Emission Vehicles (OZEV) have now released the outcome of their recent electric car charging consumer experience consultation.
To facilitate the growth, efficiency and quality of the UKs electric charge point infrastructure, OZEV have identified a particular need to address the lack of collaboration and data sharing between the many different parties involved. At present, there is no ‘source of truth’ around charge point locations, type and operating status.
OZEVs core findings around EV charging data in the UK:
- Only one-third of those involved in the study felt that charge points are easy enough to find
- Accurate EV charging data is not openly available to the parties that want / need it most
- ZapMap has a database monopoly – recording 95% of charge points in place. In comparision, the government’s own database (National Charge point Registry (NCR)) only contains less than half of charge points isn’t easy to use
- Incomplete information around charge points poses a risk to the proper running of the Department for Transport and energy network
As a result of their consultation, OZEV is proposing that charge point operators be required to open-up their charge point data – making it accessible to both third parties and consumers.
The purpose of open EV charge point data
OZEV believes access to accurate EV charge point data should ensure that:
- EV drivers can see where charge points are, but also decide whether it suits their charging needs depending on the journey they are taking.
- Local authorities are able to take stock of reliable, usable and utilised charge points and react accordingly to ensure their community is properly served.
- Energy sector players know where charge points are, to inform network upgrades, reinforcements and balance the pressure on the grid. There’s a particular need for Distribution Network Operators to share information on their existing networks, to reveal where there is capacity to install more EV chargers and charging hubs.
OZEV is recommending operators use Open Charge Point Interface Protocol (OCPI) to facilitate data sharing – an independent cloud-based data protocol for the interconnectivity of back-office systems (Mobility Service Providers, CPOs and Navigation Service providers). The ultimate goal of the protocol is to streamline the process of drivers being able to roam between charge points.
The overall benefits of roaming
- More visibility into the location and live status of charge points
- Simplified billing and enhanced price transparency
- Increased driver confidence around charger access
- It could support fleet electrification – a key step towards wide-spread adoption
- It creates the potential for future value-add-services (e.g. the option to opt to charge with renewable energy and advanced charge point booking)
- It could assist in managing the strain on the national grid.
- A faster ROI for CPOs thanks to an increased user base
- Higher customer retention for CPOs due to better User Interface (UI) and access to other networks
- A faster and more cost-efficient route-to-market in new regions – CPOs can start up in a new region just by joining an existing roaming platform.
Read more about EV roaming here.
There are four main data protocols in Europe being used to encourage ‘interoperability’ for EV roaming; the Open Clearing House Protocol (OCHP), the Open InterCharge Protocol (OICP), the eMobility Inter-Operation Protocol (eMIP), and the Open Charge Point Interface (OCPI).
OZEV’s recommended protocol – Open Charge Point Interface (OCPI) originates from the Netherlands and is funded by organisations such as the ElaadNL and the NKL.
Benefits of OCPI
With OCPI it is theoretically possible for EV drivers to charge at any charging station with any charging card, regardless of national borders, station operator, or vehicle model.
- OCPI is the clear market leader and the static data available is sufficient to solve the most critical user needs
- OCPI is publicly available at no cost and without registration
- It supports all critical data points for investment planning
- It underpins commercial organisations ability to control and supply charge point aggregate data reports
- Is highly secure, no personal details are contained within messaging
OZEVs findings show that European countries with advanced EV adoption stats all encourage open charge point data, as well as a specific correlation between OCPI adoption, and wider EV utilisation.
Continuing concerns for OCPI:
Improvements and learnings are ongoing and there are some challenges to be overcome with OCPI:
- Many legacy operator platforms aren’t OCPI and therefore require custom integration.
- There are fears around the security of having many CPOs using the same communication systems
- CPOs need to be considerate of data protection and cyber security risks of opening up their systems to third parties.
- There are some gaps in the OCPI data
- Existing initiatives show that opening data on basis of use cases is preferred to blanket openness
Making roaming the norm
Our recent customer survey clearly shows that roaming is an important improvement requested by drivers, with 55.1% of respondents wanting the ability to use a single charge card to access and pay for charging.
Mer is fully supportive of EV charge point ‘interoperability’ in the UK, as demonstrated by our recent roaming partnership with ZapMap and Allstar. Our back-end system is fully compatible with OCPI. And we’re setting up more roaming partnerships in 2022 and beyond, and are aiming to ease driver concerns about reliability anxiety and ease of access.