Open Charge Point Protocol
The Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) is an application protocol for communication between Electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and a central management system, also known as a charging station network, similar to cell phones and cell phone networks. The original version was written by Joury de Reuver and Franc Buve.
The protocol is an initiative of the E-Laad foundation in the Netherlands. Its aim was to create an open application protocol which allows EV charging stations and central management systems from different vendors to communicate with each other. It is in use by a large number of vendors of EV charging stations and central management systems all over the world.
Charging station owners, or hosts, are less vulnerable to individual system suppliers – if a charging station manufacturer ceased to exist, the host could switch to another OCPP-based network. Giving charging station customers choice and flexibility to use any network on any charge station would, through market forces, encourage charging station manufacturers and network providers to compete on price, service, product features, and innovation – all of which encourages demand by charge station owners. The end result is a significant benefit to EV drivers as the charging station infrastructure expands.
OCPP also makes it easier to create a large-scale, visible network that uses a range of different charging stations since there is a requirement for only one operating system. Proponents of OCPP also cite a reduction in development costs since software designed to provide additional functionality would only need to be developed once and not several times to fit with each individual operating system. Finally, OCPP will ease interoperability across the United States, and elsewhere, and minimize remedial work on systems.
Use in the United States
To date, OCPP is not as highly adopted in the U.S. among other vendors because the U.S. market came into being largely through a number of large U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grants that let the network provider choose their protocol. Since most of the network providers were also charge station manufacturers, this served as motivation for an EV infrastructure land grab through proprietary communication protocols, not OCPP.
The U.S. Department of Energy has made charge station network interoperability a priority in 2013 by launching a new center that will work to ensure that vehicles, charging stations, communications and networking systems work in unison with the electric grid. The Electric Vehicle-Smart Grid Interoperability Center, located at Argonne National Laboratory just outside Chicago, works to harmonize emerging EV and smart grid technologies.
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