What is OCPP and Why is it Important to EV Adoption?
When researching or setting up Electric Vehicle Charging Stations (EVCSs, also known as Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE)), you've probably come across the term "OCPP" used to describe a unit. However, you might wonder what exactly OCPP is and how it benefits charge station owners and their customers. In this piece, we break it down for you and answer some frequently asked questions about OCPP.
What is OCPP?
OCPP is an acronym for Open Charge Point Protocol. It is essentially an application protocol that allows communication between EVCSs and Central Station Management Systems (CSMS) to facilitate transactions, security, diagnostics, and more.
Importance of OCPP to EV Charging (How OCPP Works)
EV charging is a complex system that often comes in two parts:
- The CSMS (software) - a cloud-based backend system managed by the charging station company. The CSMS controls the output, voltage, and other factors depending on the system.
- The physical charging station (hardware). This includes charging equipment like chargers and associated electrical infrastructures.
Various companies and vendors can manufacture or provide one or both of these parts. To allow the hardware and management software from different suppliers to work together, you need a communication protocol that interprets the command from whatever proprietary tools each program uses into a form the others can comprehend.
This is where OCPP comes in handy, working as the standard protocol "language" and translating messages from one program or device into a form that a different one will understand and work with. Without standardized communication protocols, CSMS software or systems and charging stations cannot interact and exchange commands to execute and control various actions. Therefore, they wouldn't work.
By providing a way for different CSMSs to communicate with different EV charging stations, OCPP delivers and supports the following operations:
- Managing chargers' firmware
- Unlocking charging guns remotely
- Enabling smart charging
- Allowing to locate charging facilities and book charging time slots (via a customer-facing web or mobile app)
- Troubleshooting and diagnosing EVSE faults
- Controlling (starting or ending) remote charging session
- Transferring real-time charging session data to the central management system
- Monitoring the status of charging stations in real-time (to determine whether a charging station is unavailable, available, suspended, faulty, preparing, or finishing)
- Modifying charger settings or configuration remotely
- Authorizing EV users to start charging and enable payment through the unit, etc.
Benefits of OCPP
OCPP allows any management system to connect and work with any EVCSs, regardless of who manages and owns the network (provided that both the EVCS and management system are OCPP compliant). With this, ChargePoint operators can procure charging equipment from different vendors without changing their management system software or worrying about compatibility issues. This allows you to mix and match EVCS hardware and management systems and quickly pivot if network outages or emergencies require them to get a new station quickly.
OCPP makes charging stations visible to a wider audience and allows users to choose the stations and network providers that best meet their needs. Moreover, it can work with all types of charging techniques, including GB/T (Chinese origin), CCS 2 (European origin), and CHAdeMO (Japanese origin). These allow you to easily deploy in new locations, operate on a larger scale, and adapt if a provider goes out of business.
OCPP also allows charging equipment manufacturers to reduce future development costs. That is because manufacturers don't need to create new software and functionality and integrate it with a different operating system. Instead, they only have to make their hardware OCPP-compliant for them to work. Moreover, since the communication protocol is open, new improvements and features can be easily added to it to provide the best user experience.
When was OCPP founded, and Who Monitors or Governs It?
OCPP was established in 2009 by ElaadNL when starting a multi-vendor charging network in the Netherlands. In 2014, ElaadNL foundation, ESB (Ireland), and Greenlots (North America) formed a global consortium of private and public EV infrastructure leaders known as the Open Charge Alliance (OCA) and handed over the OCPP to it to govern and monitor it.
OCPP software was designed to be an open-source protocol that is free and easy to implement and ensures all participants speak the same language. As a result, it became the standard communication protocol and the global interoperability benchmark throughout the EV charging industry.
What Versions of OCPP are Available?
There are several versions of OCPP available. Even if you have the earliest version, you may want to integrate with technologies that utilize the older version. That's why you need to understand the variations between OCPP versions and their implications for your use case.
OCPP 1.5 started in 2009 as an initiative from ElaadNL and was standardized and released in 2012. Since then, it has been widely adopted. However, several partially incompatible implementations of OCPP exist. That is why the OCA only certifies OCPP compliance starting with OCPP 1.6.
OCPP 1.6 has additional functionality, such as smart charging, enabling local and central load balancing, and the ability to transfer data to JSON and retrieve on-demand information through a trigger message.
However, OCPP 1.6 does not have secure end-to-end encryption like its predecessor. So, you may need to find another encryption solution, like an IPsec connection or private network, to protect your devices and applications.
This is the latest version of OCPP. Although version 2.0 of the Open Charge Point Protocol was standardized in 2018, many charging station manufacturers still produce chargers that only support OCPP 1.6 and 1.5 versions.
OCPP 2.0.1 comes with added functionality and features requested by the electric vehicle charging communities. This includes better device management, support for smart charging and the newest plug-and-charge requirements, greater messaging and display capabilities, and improved security (authentication, Transport Layer Security (TLS), firmware updates, and more).
Want to Start Electric Vehicle Charging Station Business? We Can Help!
No doubt, starting an electric vehicle charging business is a worthwhile investment. However, finding bespoke CSMS software that is OCPP compliant and knowing the best EV equipment to invest your money in can be challenging. We can help!
At Nimblechapps, we are a dedicated, experienced, and talented development team that can design any mobile, web, or cloud application to provide modern, scalable, and intuitive solutions for your business. Our experts will help with your OCPP-compliant CSMS software development and suggest the best technology to develop it. We will also recommend the best companies to source your OCPP-compliant EV machines from so you can avoid playing with a blind side that could end up eating away at your return on investment. Learn more about our services and contact us today to arrange a free consultation – we can't wait to build great EV charging stations with you!