The Open Charge Point Protocol, or OCPP, is the most important acronym across the electric vehicle industry. Soon, all charger manufacturers will be working only in OCPP, to allow them to connect to any charge point management system. Clenergy EV asks what this means for EV installers.
The electric vehicle (EV) industry is experiencing unprecedented growth in the UK – there are now 780,000 plug-in EVs on the road, and in May 2023 EVs accounted for 23% of all cars sold that month1.
This shift has led to a surge in demand for EV charging infrastructure, with installations growing exponentially – especially for commercial use cases. Getting this right is paramount to enabling the growth in EVs, as without it, drivers cannot charge their vehicles.
As the need for charge point hardware grows, more and more players are coming into the UK – and they are almost entirely using something called the Open Charge Point Protocol as their communication method of choice.
What is the OCPP?
The OCPP is a global language for communication between a charge point and a central software or charge point management system. This is vital for the seamless integration of charging stations into the broader EV ecosystem – it means a mix of hardware and software solutions can co-exist within one marketplace.
OCPP was devised by the Open Charge Alliance – an association of global organisations that share best practice on everything EV. It’s been adopted throughout the EV charge point marketplace by both hardware manufacturers and charge point software providers.
What it means for the installer
An EV installer needs to be using charge point hardware that is OCPP compliant, especially if they’re targeting the commercial marketplace. There are a few major benefits of this – for the installer and for their end client.
First, flexibility and choice. Some hardware manufacturers specialise in certain scenarios – Tritium and Kempower only make rapid charging units, for instance, whereas Easee only makes single socket AC chargers. The installer can choose charge points best suited to the client’s needs, and not be locked into one supplier. This is similar to using multiple wholesalers – sometimes a unit is out of stock, and it’s better to keep options open instead of only using one supplier.
Secondly, with the rapid advancements in EV charging technology, new models of charging stations are continually being introduced. OCPP isn’t an official standard yet, but the majority of new innovations are going to be pushed through this communication protocol.
Lastly, the key pointer is the installer can provide a much better service and win more long-term work from the client. How can they do that?
The critical role of EV charging software
Each charging station requires a Charge Point Management System (CPMS) to effectively manage them – this is where charge point allows someone to set tariff ratings and enables EV Drivers to pay at point of use. This is often referred to as back-office software.
Some hardware manufacturers provide one of these out of the box – but it’s not something that they specialise in, and it can sometimes show. It will lack basic functionality, like setting up public and private tariffs.
But it is crucial if the chargers are in a commercial environment: whether the end client is looking to monetise the chargers in question, or simply power their own company vehicles.
This is where installers can excel in the EV marketplace, by partnering with an OCPP complaint software provider. When this is in place, there are suddenly multiple options for the installer – for extra revenue and for delighted end clients:
- Give the client the whole solution – offer them a full turnkey solution, with a CPMS that allows them to set their own tariffs and monetise their charging stations long-term.
- Maintenance agreements – by using a software partner, installers can use the CPMS to manage the charging stations remotely. A fault can be solved without a site visit, keeping the client happy. This can be an additional revenue stream.
- No support burden – Most charge point software companies offer 24/7 support to end users – which means they’re not calling you if they can’t use the unit correctly.
- Easier onboarding and commissioning – specialist teams are available to help, streamlining the final stages of the install and making the whole process more efficient.
- Long term work – if your end-client is happy with all of the above, they’re likely coming back to install more charging stations. The EV marketplace is only going to continue growing!
Earning more from every charging installation
The importance of an OCPP hardware solution, coupled with hardware agnostic charging software, gives an EV installation business the most flexibility. It allows them to grow their brand in the EV industry, in what is going to become a fiercely competitive industry. It’s time for installers to start growing their own EV empire.