JH Thought Lab

The Value of the Open Charging Network

Electric vehicles (EV) are a key technology contributing to sustainable transportation systems due to their potential for reducing carbon emissions, improving air quality, and contributing to grid resilience. I believe that the Open Charging Network (OCN) from Share&Charge has the potential to accelerate the adoption and improvement of electric vehicle technology. This post discusses what I see as the value propositions of the OCN and the technical aspects which enable this value.

Value Propositions of the OCN

Improved E-Roaming

In the E.U. market, the absence of widely adopted protocols and interoperability standards for charging hinders the development of cross-border EV travel ("e-roaming") [1]. This challenge also exists outside the E.U. For example, the Canadian government is supporting a project for the "Demonstration of a Central Access Option for EV Drivers for Charging Network Account Management" [2]. The OCN tackles this challenge by encouraging the various EV charging service providers towards a standard communication protocol, which makes the implementation of e-roaming far more feasible.

Accelerating EV Charging Innovation

The OCN can be thought of as a Web 3 network. That is to say, it is a network which is not controlled by a single organization or a small group of organizations. This means that the interests of those who control the network are more likely to align with the interests of those who depend on the network, including users, developers, businesses, and creators, fuelling their potential to innovate in the EV charging space.

Technical aspects of the OCN

These are the technical aspects of the OCN which I see as being the drivers of its value propositions.

One-time registration process and simplified message addressing

If OCPI is used in a direct peer-to-peer architecture, each party must perform a credentials negotiation with each other party. Use of the OCN, on the other hand, requires only a single registration with the OCN-Registry and with a single OCN-Node. The OCN then allows a party to send a message to another party, requiring only knowledge of the recipient's party identifier.

Open network and network data

The OCN-Registry is a smart contract on a public blockchain which means that anyone can register an OCN-Node or an OCPI party or read information about registered parties, without requiring approval from an authority.

Standardization around OCPI

Usage of the OCN requires each client to conform to OCPI (either by direct implementation themselves or via use of the OCN-Bridge). This standardization around OCPI allows for services to be built using the shared OCPI apis and models for electric vehicle charging.

Cited Sources:

[1] Ferwerda, R.; Bayings, M.; Van der Kam, M.; Bekkers, R. Advancing E-Roaming in Europe: Towards a Single “Language” for the European Charging Infrastructure. World Electr. Veh. J. 20189, 50.

[2] Natural Resources Canada, Demonstration of a Central Access Option for EV Drivers for Charging Network Account Management