The Open Charge Alliance, a global consortium of public and private electric vehicle infrastructure leaders that promotes electric vehicle charging network interoperability, has launched its charter and issued a call for new international members.
ABB, Eaton, ESB, E-laad, Greenlots and other EV industry firms are current OCA members. The body previously operated under the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) banner. After generating what it calls “broad industry consensus” behind that protocol, the OCA now hopes to to promote and enable open, flexible electric vehicle charging networks for the next wave of EV adoption worldwide.
The OCPP has been operating for several years and is currently the accepted protocol in 50 countries and for more than 10,000 stations, the OCA says.
The biggest challenge facing EV adoption is no longer related to “range anxiety,” but rather stems from limitations in access to the public charging stations that line highways, streets and communities, the OCA says.
Many of these early stations are accessible only via proprietary, subscription-based networks. These closed networks generate frustration for EV drivers, who need and expect the same accessibility that they enjoy at the gasoline pump. That driver frustration translates to risk for charging station owners, who fear the financial burden of stranded assets if they are bound to proprietary EV networks, the OCA says. The back-to-back bankruptcies of Ecotality and Better Place have exacerbated these fears.
There is, however, a better way, according to the OCA. In many European countries like the Netherlands, EV drivers have use of all public charging stations. It is in the interest of the entire EV industry — from site host to drivers — to have the same easy access across all borders, according to the group.
The OCA will release the next version of OCPP in the coming weeks. OCPP v2.0 includes a more efficient, modern transport, with new messages supporting pricing, smart charging, and charging station health and maintenance, including device event notification and statistical reports. The OCA is currently developing a process for OCPP v2.0 compliancy and interoperability, in parallel with the last phase of protocol specification.