The mobility transition is here. Electric cars are gaining ground in the market – as can be seen from the fact that the first manufacturers are already setting a date for the end of combustion engine production. An important prerequisite for electromobility is a Europe-wide network of AC and DC charging stations.
The challenge: Charging stations must support many scenarios
Unlike the filling station network, the requirements for charging points are very different. For example, there are some supermarkets that offer free charging electricity as a service. Employers are starting to set up charging stations for their commuting employees. Individual real estate companies are also setting up charging stations at their properties. These charging options mostly use alternating current and provide eleven to 22 kilowatts of power.
Another case is DC fast-charging stations on highways, which offer up to 350 kilowatts of charging power with the current state of the art. There are technical differences between fast chargers with up to 50 kilowatts and the extra-fast hyperchargers, which require special charging cables with liquid cooling.
To perform their tasks, the devices are not only connected to the power grid, but also to the Industrial IoT (Internet of Things). Among other things, it allows them billing with the charging network operator and the respective electricity provider, which often varies from region to region, as well as the user.
The solution: Connection to cloud and Industrial IoT
For charging technology manufacturers like Compleo, the wide variety of different use scenarios means that connectivity and data exchange are important components of charging stations. Thus, users must identify themselves at the station with an app or RFID charging card. Back-end systems in the cloud check authorization and start the charging process. For this, it is common for the columns to support multiple mobile networks with SIM cards. Network availability and stability is not always certain, but the column must be able to establish a cloud connection in any case.
The Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) connection is used to exchange authentication and billing data with charge point operators (CPOs). The statements are also forwarded to the charging contract provider (Electromobility Provider, EMP). This separation of roles ensures that customers of the respective EMP receive power at all charging points. Overall, there are many CPOs and EMPs in electromobility. Special roaming platforms are used to transfer the necessary data between them.
There is also connectivity for status data. Many charging stations are able to display the current occupancy and the number of free spaces. In addition, a data connection is also important for remote monitoring and control of the charging columns. Operators can remotely reset the column, troubleshoot minor technical issues and check maintenance status. This also makes it easier for technicians to deploy, as they now know in advance which spare parts are needed.
A charging station from Compleo is a complex IoT device that can manage billing with different electricity providers through its connection to the medium-voltage grid and mobile communications. This requires special devices for the Industrial IoT and the connection to mobile communications. Compleo uses IIoT solutions from Industry 4.0 specialist Round Solutions. They simplify communication with the cloud. The cellular component comes from Telit, an expert in connecting IoT devices to 4G/5G and other networks.
The result: Charging stations that can be used throughout Europe
The flexibility of Round Solutions’ and Telit’s hardware and software allows Compleo to distribute its AC and DC charging stations throughout Europe. Different mobile networks are taken into account. The column always selects the best available network. This is the only way to send login and billing data, as well as status data for navigation systems, to a cloud application at any time.
This is because the rate calculation is just as complex as the technology. Thus, there are different tariffs depending on the charging infrastructure provider. Users of certain vehicle brands have special rates and can register at the charging stations using a special charging card. In addition, individual electricity providers also have their own tariffs and, accordingly, their own charging cards. A modern charging station must take this complexity into account and calculate the billing data transparently for the user.