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EV Energy Taskforce: 'Consensus view’ of industry on interoperability, data and smart charging

Image: Current±.

Image: Current±.

Transport electrification could very easily “fall into the trap of being siloed”, said Philip New, chair of the Electric Vehicle Energy Taskforce.

Its report, outlining 21 proposals for industry and government on how best to enable electrification, was released yesterday (14 January).

It presents proposals that “we can confidently state are the aggregate, agreed, aligned, consensus view of the industry as a whole,” New said at its launch.

“Not one part of the industry, but the industry as a whole,” New stressed, adding that this did require, “of course, compromise”.

The proposals are split into five categories, spanning interoperability, smart charging, data, winning consumer’s trust and confidence and developing and maintaining the infrastructure consumers need.

Over 350 organisations took part in the taskforce, including charging networks, suppliers, trade organisations, the distribution network operators, transmission operators and battery storage and tech companies.

Delivering consumer benefits through interoperability

Seven of the proposals – the largest number in any of the themes – related to interoperability. This relates to all aspects of EV charging, with industry needing to agree on a set of standards by 2025. A body to support this should be set up by government in collaboration with industry to coordinate the involvement of industry stakeholders.

Roaming should be enabled by the end of 2021 to deliver a “seamless” EV charging experience. Roaming has been a contentious issue. In October, then-chair of the APPG on EVs, Matt Western,issued a letter to Pod Point, Ecotricity and BP Chargemaster warning the charging networks to put in place systems that facilitate roaming within the next twelve months, or the government may intervene.

However, Ecotricity and Pod Point hit back, suggesting roaming agreements are “not really relevant” in light of contactless payments.

Interoperability between those looking to exploit EV's flexibility was also highlighted in the report, which pointed to the fact there is no industry code governing the order of precedence in the event more than one party requests control of an EV’s charging at the same time, which could lead to missed opportunities and risks to system stability.

Therefore, government and Ofgem should ensure coordination of industry parties by 2021 through the electricity industry technical and market code governance frameworks.

The other interoperability proposals are:

  • Extend the minimum technical requirements for smart chargers to facilitate the management of electricity network capacity by 2021.
  • Ensuring system resilience through the agreement of common standards for cyber security.
  • Governance arrangements should be developed for the use of emergency charge limitation by a network company.
  • Common labelling standards for EVSE should be developed by 2021.

“We are really encouraging as strongly as we can, industry to get together and align on a clear set of common proposals to underpin interoperability, data sharing and so forth,” New said, adding that this should start with a thorough review of current and proposed international standards.


Rewarding consumers for charging smartly

The taskforce is proposing a switch to private chargers to charge smartly by default, with an opt-out function, by 2021.

Market mechanisms should be created to encourage EV owners to provide energy services and/or avoid incurring additional energy system costs. However, the overall market framework should also allow a wide range of market participants and business models to compete on a level playing field, the report said.

Markets and price signals should maximise opportunties for consumers to utilise flexible resources such as EVs and sufficiently reward them for offering demand flexibility services that support optimised network operations and investment, emission reductions and whole system efficiency.

Randolph Brazier, head of innovation and development at the Energy Networks Association, said at the launch: "It’s not a choice between smart charging or innovation and infrastructure. You’re probably going to need both depending on where you are in the country.”

Government and Ofgem should also ensure on an ongoing basis from 2020 that the number of consumers with smart meters installed before or alongside a charge point is maximised.

The smart meter roll out has been plagued with problems and delays, most recently with the deadline being pushed back until 2024. However, smart meters can be an enabler to innovative tariffs and smart charging schemes.


Utilising and protecting data for better consumer outcomes

Opening up and sharing data was one of the more contentious topics for the participants in the taskforce to make agreements on, according to Brazier.

The report’s eleventh proposal focuses on developing comprehensive data sharing arrangements, including standarisation where appropriate, and open and interoperable exchange principles and mechanisms.

This should be in conjunction and alignment with implementation of recommendations made by the Energy Data Taskforce in 2019, which is also run by the Energy Systems Catapult.

The two other data proposals are that:

  • A Data Access and Privacy Framework should be introduced for the EV sector by 2021.
  • Public charge point operators, owners and market actors must make data on location, type, status, capacity, price and availability consistent and openly available for EV drivers by 2021 to facilitate the availability of open and accurate charge point data. There should be a single asset register for this.


Developing and maintaining the charging infrastructure consumers need

As a “matter of urgency” the government and Ofgem need to facilitate effective forward planning and coordinating of the EV rollout and electricity network infrastructure at both a national and local level. This should be implemented and used through the RIIO-2 price control.

Ofgem should also ensure the RIIO-2 price control supports “well-justified” anticipatory network investment, including LV monitoring, that benefits consumers and enables efficient and coordinated deployment of the network infrastructure necessary for charging.

Lastly, support should be provided by the government to all parties concerned with developing and procuring the delivery, operation and maintenance of public EV charging infrastructure, including sharing of best practice and providing guidance on procurement of charging solutions and requirements by the end of 2021.

However, there are also several “significant issues” the taskforce was unable to address, it said, including the challenge of decarbonising commercial vehicles, getting the balance right between competition and regulation and the risk some consumers may have better experiences.

Daniel Brown, policy manager and EV lead at the Renewable Energy Association, whilst welcoming the document, said there has been some “missed opportunities” in the report. The taskforce should have used more ambitious language around mandating roaming for public charging infrastructure for example.

Clearer direction on how networks and energy suppliers relate to each other to manage smart charging, and the extent of government intervention in times of market failure would “also have been valuable.”

“We now ask the government urgently reviews this report and takes action, particularly around the recommendations relating to smart charging, standards development, and more coordinated planning.

“The EV charging and renewable energy sectors, for our part, are ready to collaborate to deliver on our shared net zero ambition,” he said.

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