Electric vehicles (EVs) continue to make inroads in automotive markets as consumers shift away from combustion engines and the fossil fuels on which they rely. Experts widely believe that EVs will have a major presence in our low-carbon future. This makes Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) adherence a critical aspect of the ongoing electrification push.
Universally used in EV energy management, this protocol standardizes electronic interactions between charging stations and the central management systems (CMSs) that control virtually every aspect of EV charging.
To ensure interoperability and a secure, seamless digital experience, EV charging management software should comply with the latest Open Charge Point Protocol standards. An updated version of OCPP was recently released, shifting the EV infrastructure and energy management landscape.
This guide reviews the protocol and its new features. We also examine software compliance issues in the context of the update.
What Is the Open Charge Point Protocol or OCPP?
First developed privately, the Open Charge Point Protocol’s initial version appeared in 2009. It was released to the public one year later, and a major update followed in 2012. The Open Charge Alliance (OCA), a technological collective based in the Netherlands, assumed control of OCPP when it was founded in 2014.
In 2015, the Open Charge Alliance published OCPP 1.6, which became (and remains) the protocol’s most widely used version. Now a universal feature of the EV charging ecosystem, the protocol occupies a vital position in fleet electrification.
In short, the Open Charge Point Protocol ensures that charging stations and their CMSs can work together. It also facilitates the remote management of EV infrastructure, secure data exchanges, and the use of smart charging features. What’s more, OCPP is also scalable. Its status as an open-source technology drives competition and innovation in the EV industry.
The Open Charge Alliance issued OCPP 2.0 in 2018 and released the 2.0.1 update in 2020. While charging points operators (CPOs) have been relatively slow to adopt versions 2.0 and 2.0.1, they offer significant upgrades over version 1.6 that merit serious consideration.
OCPP 1.6 vs. OCPP 2.0.1: Why the Upgrade?
Drawing on firsthand user research, the Open Charge Alliance prioritized technical upgrades and a better UI/UX design in developing version 2.0.1. One key example relates to charging station monitoring features.
The upgraded capabilities make it easier for CPOs to manage large DC-fast station networks, which frequently engage multiple end vendors. Through more active and effective monitoring features, CPOs can optimize configurations and management for superior station efficiency and performance.
Version 1.6, which is backwards-compatible with OCPP 1.5 and supports the JSON and SOAP data formats, offers load-balancing smart charging features. Other key aspects of its operational profile include list management and detailed charging status information support. It also includes an evolved set of message-sending features.
Why the Upgrade Was Necessary
OCPP 1.6 saw widespread adoption and superior functionality relative to earlier versions of the protocol. Still, CPOs felt there was room for improvement in its experience design and functionality. The Open Charge Alliance responded with meaningful improvements in areas such as:
- Device management
- Transaction handling
- Security features
- Smart charging functionality
- Information displays and messaging
OCPP 2.0.1 also features enriched messaging, display, smart-charge management, load management, transaction management capabilities, and data personalization that extends to language displays. This personalization feature enables drivers to interact with the charging network in their choice of supported languages.
OCPP Compliance in Modern Hardware/Software: Navigating the Predominance of Version 1.6
As the EV ecosystem continues to evolve, industry experts widely believe that the mass-scale adoption of OCPP 2.0.1 is inevitable. But as of late 2023, version 1.6 remains dominant. This is contributing to some compliance hiccups with respect to hardware and software development.
Why Some Operators Prefer Version 1.6
Despite offering superior security, plug-and-charge smart charging, and transaction management features, some operators continue to use version 1.6 over 2.0.1 for the sake of simplicity.
Further complicating the situation is the fact that some CPOs have implemented version 1.6 on a mass scale across wide charging station networks. For these operators, upgrading to OCPP 2.0.1 represents a major investment, which some would like to delay or avoid.
The Benefits of 2.0.1 Adoption
Industry experts agree that OCPP 2.0.1 delivers a superior experience, both to EV drivers and CPOs. By using the latest version of the protocol, operators can also bypass the compatibility limitations that come with having multiple versions in play.
Security, efficiency, and superior management features make OCPP 2.0.1 a clear front-runner. In fact, it’s widely expected to become the dominant standard over the next several years, giving stakeholders an added impetus to commit to the upgrade.
One of the clearest upgrading pathways relates to CMS software. Customized CMS programmatic media can be configured for OCPP 2.0.1 compliance and compatibility. This makes the switch from version 1.6 to version 2.0.1 easier, smoother, and more efficient.
Strategic scheduling also allows CPOs to test version 2.0.1 on smaller scales before implementing a wide rollout.
S44 Delivers Powerful, Customized, and OCPP 2.0.1-Compliant Charging Software Solutions
CPOs and stakeholders throughout the EV industry are preparing for the charging station solutions and battery management systems of the future. With OCPP 2.0.1 poised to emerge as the new standard, compliant CMS software holds critical importance.
After spending nearly a decade developing and building custom software solutions in support of fleet electrification and eMobility, S44 has launched the new CitrineOS open-source EV energy management platform. CitrineOS is fully compliant with OCPP 2.0.1, and users can access and manage the innovative platform through a single app. This feature will help CPOs and hardware manufacturers upgrade to version 2.0.1 with enhanced ease and efficiency.
S44 also provides bespoke consulting and software development services to operators who wish to transition to OCPP 2.0.1 but lack the necessary in-house personnel or expertise. Get in touch with S44 today to learn how our custom software solutions and services can optimize your experience.