Creating a more interoperable electric vehicle (EV) charging system in the UK should be a priority for the industry, according to the Renewable Energy Association (REA).
In a report, the trade association pointed out that consumers currently need multiple apps, cards and sometimes membership accounts in order to travel across the country using public charging infrastructure, which can be a hassle and a potential deterrent for future EV drivers.
Greater interoperability would improve the consumer experience and could allow for advanced functions, such as live status updates of chargers across different networks, more simple billing, and even the vehicle itself managing the payment process.
Interoperability may also encourage EV adoption by fleets, which is a key step towards building a mass market.
The report highlighted how other industries have experienced similar developments, such as the telecoms industry which over the past 20 years has moved from regionalised, closed networks to consumers now being able to ‘roam’ across networks in the EU on one mobile phone plan.
“Tackling the urgent issue of interoperability between charging networks has implications for consumers, for the energy system, and for the ability for a wide range of market actors to embrace electric vehicles,” commented REA chief executive Dr Nina Skorupska.
“In the Road to Zero strategy the Government stated an ambition for the UK to have one of the best charging infrastructure networks in the world. In our minds, and in the minds of our members, interoperability is crucial to delivering that vision.”
Daniel Brown, policy manager at the REA and report author, added: “As the number of actors in the UK’s EV charging sector is quickly expanding, and the size of the public charging network poised to significantly grow, now is the time for the sector to come together and discuss industry-led solutions to interoperability that can be supported by Government.
“If our members embraced similar communications protocols and standards, customers in the future could be able to access live data in their vehicle dashboards or phone apps on charge point status, they could charge through their vehicle without the need for an app or card, and their vehicles could more easily help manage strains on the electricity system.”