What is OCPP?

Imagine a world where every gas station only accepted their own form of payment.

Esso only accepted Visa, Shell only accepted Mastercard, and independent stations only accepted cash.

Luckily, this is not the world we live in, and consumers are free to roam between gas stations. Soon, electric vehicles drivers will be free to roam between charging station networks thanks to OCPP.

But this future is not guaranteed for EV drivers: it is essential that property managers and business owners promote the adoption of open charging networks. Otherwise, consumers and businesses alike will pay the cost of monopolistic refuelling infrastructure.

 

What is the Open Charge Point Protocol?

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The Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) is an initiative led by the Open Charge Alliance (OCA). It is an open communication protocol that allows electric vehicle charging stations and central management software to communicate with each other. The protocol has been adopted by dozens of leading charging station providers and auto manufacturers around the world.

Open protocols are crucial for the budding EV charging market. They enable interoperability between charging stations, vehicles, and station management services. Open protocols promote innovation and collaboration, and they ensure the cost of EV charging remains competitive for business owners and EV drivers alike.

 

Why is OCPP important for property managers and business owners?

As a property manager, interoperability puts you in control. You will be able to choose the price you pay for EV charging services, and not be forced into a long-term agreement where a station manufacturer or service provider names their price.

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Choosing an OCPP-compliant network guarantees your freedom of choice. It grants you the flexibility to change between interoperable hardware and network management services, allowing you to utilize any OCPP-compliant charging station or network operator in the future. As a result, you don’t have to worry about making an investment in a charging station or network service provider that may raise rates, or even become obsolete.

Network service providers and charging station manufacturers that aren’t OCPP-compliant use their own proprietary protocol that locks you in to their specific network. Thus, you will be unable to use alternative service providers unless you take the charging station out of the ground and install a new one.

This is similar to how mobile phone carriers used to lock cell phones to their network. In order to change mobile phone providers, you would need to throw away your cell phone and purchase a new one. Luckily, interoperability was introduced to the cell phone industry, and consumers are now free to choose mobile phone providers.

 

Why is OCPP important for EV drivers?

Example of charging station payment options:  Patrick C.'s collection of 14 charging network cards .

Example of charging station payment options: Patrick C.'s collection of 14 charging network cards.

In the past decade, there has been an explosion of EV charging service providers. Many of these early providers chose to build proprietary, closed networks of charging stations. As a result, EV drivers need to carry a dedicated RFID card, fob, or mobile application for each network they want to access. In the coming years, roaming through OCPP will enable drivers to charge at any open network through a single user and billing account.

With a closed network, drivers are forced to download apps, subscribe to plans, carry multiple fobs, or jump through other hoops to fulfill the most basic need of their vehicle: refuelling. Truly open platforms promote ease of use and flexibility for EV drivers and property managers alike.

 

Want to learn more?

To find out if a networked charging solution is right for your business, and what OCPP-compliant options are available, get in touch with ChargeLab today: