Electric Vehicle

Smarter Ways for Cities to Manage EV Charging Infrastructures

If you own an electric vehicle (EV), the recurring question you’ll get is: how easy is it to charge the battery on the road? Clearly, people simply want to get on with their day and not waste time hunting for available and working charging stations.

Available and working are the key words here. Among the news reports this year about public EV charging are two articles by the Financial Times (Power struggle stalls London’s electric cars and A day in the life of a London electric car station). These indicated that a sizeable number of London’s public charge points for EVs were either not available or not working.

You might be puzzled by this. We now have images from the far side of the galaxy courtesy of the New Horizons and there’s talks of cloning mammoths and setting them free in Siberia. But cities still can’t give EV drivers a reliable charging network to beat range anxiety (the fear of the battery going flat).

So how can EV charging infrastructures score a high satisfaction and performance rating?

Start with driver-friendly charging stations

As drivers, what we see are the on-street charging stations. The stations have to be compatible with a variety of EV models as well as provide fast or standard charge depending on their location. For example, fast charge in short-term parking for drivers who are willing to pay a higher fee and standard charge for drivers on the basic package. Easy-to-use software enables secure access by authenticated drivers only. The stations have to be cloud-connected so that drivers can use smart apps to find available stations and even reserve them online.

Choose the power of open standards

What we don’t see is the backbone that holds the whole operation together: the back-end system. The back-end system is usually a Web-based software that allow city operators to control and monitor public charging stations across the city.

Charging stations communicate to the back-end system using an application protocol. And there are many protocols available. In my previous post, I talked about the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP). When municipalities choose OCPP-compliant charging stations, they can manage all their stations, regardless of manufacturer, using a single central system with OCPP standard.

Improve efficiency from behind the scene

Through the back-end system, operators get a clear overview of the network status, e.g. which stations are available, in use, or reserved. Without leaving the office, the operators can troubleshoot and bring a station back online or response immediately to hotline requests to deactivate a charging session. The uptime of the infrastructure is greatly improved as a result.

Since an EV network serves different groups of drivers, from the general public to the city’s own service teams, the same back-end system also needs to provide easy management of driver access and usage records for billing and cost allocation.

Rely on a trusted partner

Thanks to extensive experience in energy management, Schneider Electric provides comprehensive solutions for efficient EV charging networks. Schneider Electric’s EVlink Parking solutions include load management as well as network supervision and maintenance, helping ensure charging stations are working in order to maximize infrastructure availability.

Learn more about EVlink Parking EV charging solutions.

 

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