Understanding OCPP and its significance to EV Charging

As a part of EVreporter learning series, this article by experts at CHARGE+ZONE aims to answer the most frequently asked questions about OCPP – Open Charge Point Protocol.

Cover Image Source: OCA-Open-Standards-White-Paper

What is OCPP?

OCPP stands for ‘Open Charge Point Protocol’. It helps in setting up open communication standards which play a key role in participation of multiple payers, enabling innovation and cost efficiencies. Use of these standards invite no cost or licensing barriers for adoption. It was originally developed in 2009 by E-Laad foundation (now ElaadNL), and now it is maintained by the Open Charge Alliance, headquartered in Arnhem, Netherlands.

Click here for a video explanation of OCPP

It is a defacto communication standard between Charging Station and Charging Station Management System (CSMS), supported by industry players internationally. OCPP can accommodate all types of charging techniques (GB/T, CHADMEO, CCS 2). It has been downloaded more than 20,000 times by various industry players from 100 different countries.

OCPP is an open communication protocol that allows the EV Charging Stations and the Charging Station Management System (CSMS) to communicate with each other.

CSMS is a cloud-based backend system managed by the company operating the charging station. The EVSE (electric vehicle charging equipment comprising of the charger and associated electrical infrastructure) communicates with the CSMS to help EV drivers locate charging facilities, reserve slots,  get authorisation and make payment. CSMS also helps the company by fixing tariff to be charged, generating reports, running diagnostic, scheduling and monitoring of charging stations.

Also Read: Basics of EV Charging

What are the different versions of OCPP?

Following are the released versions of OCPP by Open Charge Alliance: 

– OCPP 1.5 | Released in 2012

– OCPP 1.6 (S/J) | Released in Oct 2015

– OCPP 2.0 (J) | Released in Apr 2018

– OCPP 2.0. 1 (J) | Released in March 2020


What role does OCPP play in EV charging operations?

OCPP helps the EVSE  and CSMS to communicate with each other by creating an open platform. Following are some of the basic operations supported via OCPP:

– Authorization of EV user for start of charging including Local List of Authorization

– Remote modification of Charger configuration (settings)

– Real-time status of charging stations (available, unavailable, faulted, suspended EV/EVSE, charging, preparing, finishing)

– Real time charging session data transfer to central management system

– Remote charging session control (start/end)

– EVSE Fault Diagnosis

– Reservation of charging time slot by EV user (through a customer facing mobile/web app)

– Smart Charging

– Firmware management of chargers

– Remote unlocking of charging gun etc.

OCPP 2.0.1 has come up with an additional charging operation of energy management via smart charging, compliance to ISO 15118, enhanced security & other new flexible features.

ISO 15118  is an international standard that defines a Vehicle to Grid (V2G) communication interface for bi-directional energy transfer between the EVs and the Grid.

What are the benefits of OCPP?

– Makes it possible to connect any central management system with any charging station, regardless of the vendor (provided the CSMS and charging station are both OCPP compliant).

– The standardized open protocol gives charge point operators the flexibility to procure charging equipment from multiple vendors. 

– It is independent of the charging technique, vis-à-vis, CHAdeMO (Japanese origin), CCS 2 (European origin), GB/T (Chinese origin)

– Enables uniform access to charging stations, roaming and billing services for EV customers

– New features and improvements can be added relatively easily through the openness of the protocol. 

Also Read: What is a Charging Network? Top EV Charging Networks in India

What is the significance of OCPP in Smart Charging?

OCPP (version 1.6 onwards) provides the CSMS an ability to optimally schedule charging of EVs in order to maximize the use of the sanctioned electrical power from the Grid. Smart Charging maximizes the number of EVs that can be charged simultaneously with in constraint of contract demand. This helps in enhancing grid stability.

Smart Charging enables control over the power and current being supplied to a specific vehicle or a group of vehicles, plugged in at the same time. This can be done by putting limits on maximum power that can be supplied by each charging point/gun. Also, by scheduling the EV charging based on Time of Day (TOD) tariff and availability of Open access to renewable power, EV owners and Fleet Operators can save on cost per unit of energy delivered to the vehicle. 

This helps in regulating total energy consumption and cost, taking into account factors such as load capacity, Time of Day metering, availability of charging stations etc. Also allows priority charging for selected vehicles.

On supply side – By seamless integration with Grid, V2G/V2H configuration (Vehicle to Grid / Vehicle to Home), it is possible to support the grid during peak cycles.

In the charging ecosystem, who all have the onus to get their products/services OCPP compliant and certified?

It is the prime responsibility of charging station OEM/Manufacturer to get their equipment OCPP compliant & certified.  

The charging service Network Providers have to ensure OCPP compliance of EVSEs and enable the data transfer to their central servers using OCPP communication protocols. This helps them in being manufacturer agnostic. 

Do OCPP play a role in enabling interoperability between different charging networks?

OCPP helps a Charger communicate with its central server system. However, the communication between different charging network operators requires the implementation of other communication protocols like OCPI (Open Charging Protocol Interface) or OICP (Open InterCharge Protocol).

Source: MJBradley Interoperability Brief

Note: Communication between different charging networks allows roaming options for the EV users, i.e. ability to access a charging network that you are not registered with, by the virtue of peer to peer contract between two charging networks or through a central hub system.

Do the regulations in India mandate OCPP implementation for EVSE manufacturers and Charging Networks?

In India, as per the report given by DHI Committee (Department of Heavy Industries, GoI), standards are mentioned only for Bharat Chargers, i.e., DC001 & AC001 which mandate OCPP 1.5 compliance for its manufacturers & Charging Networks. But, the industry is following existing OCPP 1.6 and is likely to follow the newer versions too. 

What are the different types of OCPP certificates?

The Open Charge Alliance certification programs are open for both members and non-members. Members receive a discount. Conformance to OCPP specifications are validated by authorised independent test agencies to issue the certificate.

For a charging station implementation, one can choose either a full or a subset certificate. In case of a Charging Station Management System implementation, a full certificate is required. Fully Certified means that the product has implemented all features of the protocol and has successfully completed all certification tests. A Subset Certified product enables the vendor to indicate what sets of features of OCPP 1.6 are implemented in the product and to receive a partial certificate for those specific features.

OCPP Certificate Types

About the author

This article has been penned by the good folks at CHARGE+ZONE. CHARGE+ZONE has its own indigenously built Charge Point Operator (CPO) which is in constant communication with its wide network of 100+ charging stations via OCPP 1.6J protocol. They are currently working on Smart Charging, Battery Swapping networks and required communication protocols. The team can be reached at their website or via email.

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