Lessons learned: eMobility from Malaga to Malmö
As the Chinese philosopher Laozi said, “A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” It’s a saying that drivers of electric vehicles have had to take to heart in the last few years. At the European level, a huge amount of research and development work had to go into the topic of eMobility to make (electro)mobility across borders a possibility in the first place. Various European initiatives, for instance Crome and Green eMotion established cross-border electromobility as a topic of research. On the surface, it appeared to be a simple task, yet on closer inspection it turned into a considerable challenge – one that could be overcome only by bringing together all manner of companies and organizations and with careful, detailed work and cross-border collaboration.
In the Green eMotion project, for instance, various demonstration regions were used to investigate and showcase multiple aspects of electromobility.
One area of focus was the trans-regional usage of infrastructure in a bid to allow all users to charge their vehicles anywhere within the regions in the network.
In the Stuttgart/Karlsruhe region, Bosch Software Innovations took on the task of demonstrating the eRoaming concept. This allows drivers to charge their vehicle at any charge point and then charge the electricity used to their domestic energy provider (similar to the Maestro EC cards that allow you to withdraw cash at foreign cash points throughout Europe). The aim was to test and demonstrate transnational eRoaming in practice in collaboration with the Strasbourg demonstration region across the border in France.
Crome is a Franco-German project that laid important groundwork in making this a reality. Energy providers EnBW and EDF helped set up charge points on the German and French sides of the border, each equipped with a range of different sockets. This meant that although there was still no uniform plug standard, it was possible to recharge your vehicle in the border region as early as 2011. Happily, this issue has since been regulated on a European scale so that in the future all you need is one plug to recharge anywhere in Europe. Thinking about it a bit more, though, it’s obvious that plug standardization is just the beginning. User-friendly eRoaming calls for more. Charge points can be used only once you’ve identified yourself at the charge point. There are several ways to do this. Since most of the demonstration regions in the Green eMotion project opted for an RFID card, this form of identification was investigated first.
What we found was that the RFID cards in use followed a range of specifications and were only interoperable to a limited degree. Accordingly, using an RFID card it was only possible to demonstrate a small portion of Europe-wide interoperability for eRoaming. Modifying all of the existing systems would have been too big a job, since all the cards and the entire infrastructure would have had to have been adapted. Another disadvantage was that achieving interoperability would have meant sacrificing the security of the system to such an extent that it would no longer have been truly future-proof and suitable for mass markets.
Bosch Software Innovations developed a smartphone app to provide an additional option. The success of this app was evident in the rally to Brussels in fall 2014. A smartphone app sidesteps the problem of incompatibility among RFID cards, but does require connected charge points that can be activated by the respective administrative system. Many charge points are already connected and online. Nevertheless, additional charge points were also upgraded for the demonstration so that they could be connected as well.
Connected charge points
Connected charge points are linked by their operators to what is known as a backend system. To connect the operators with each other, all of these backend systems had to communicate with one another – no small task given the number of different operators. To facilitate connectivity, Green eMotion also made use of the central marketplace concept employed earlier in the CROME project. This meant that each partner had only to connect to the central Green eMotion marketplace. Because of the existing structures in the Strasbourg and Karlsruhe region, to which partners EDF and EnBW were already connected, the decision was taken to develop and showcase a marketplace-to-marketplace connection between CROME and Green eMotion. The result is that partners in one marketplace can make use of services from another marketplace, and are also able to easily offer their services in another marketplace with significantly reduced connectivity outlay. It also provided valuable insights regarding future marketplace-to-marketplace connections.
Thanks to the intensive collaboration among the international partners in the Green eMotion project, connecting the marketplaces was a success and enabled the project to demonstrate that drivers of electric vehicles from other regions in Europe are equally capable of charging their vehicles in Karlsruhe or Strasbourg.
In addition, the solution paved the way for a demonstration of far-reaching and barrier-free eRoaming in Europe. To cover the few remaining places yet to be connected will require further standards, as was the case with charging plugs earlier on.
It is vitally important that the marketplace interfaces follow a uniform standard – or at the very least be comprehensively documented. Only then is it possible to connect several marketplaces without the costs and work involved getting out of hand.
In principle, then, eRoaming is possible Europe-wide. The project provided some valuable insights into present hurdles and possible solutions.
As a member of the management board of standardization group eMI3, Bosch Software Innovations will contribute its findings to aid the technical development of eRoaming in Europe. We are also part of the Pan-European eRoaming Initiative, in which four key European roaming platforms – including hubject – have agreed on a far-reaching collaboration in order to facilitate eRoaming. The insights gained from the various research projects, for instance regarding the connection of several marketplaces, have been gratefully received by the other members in the initiative.