EV Charging Station Technology and Infrastructure

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  • In today’s era of e-mobility, the number of electric vehicles (EVs) continues to rise in many countries around the world. Therefore, governments and companies are investing heavily in developing and expanding electric vehicle charging infrastructure to keep them all on the road. This is creating a fragmented market. The situation is even more complex due to the high-tech nature and many different types of components in charging station technology – or electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) as it is also known. As a result, a multitude of different standards may apply when testing and certifying EV charging station technology.

  • How does the EV charging infrastructure impact on consumer adoption?

    ‘Range anxiety’ is a common concern among consumers. The fear of having to interrupt their journey while they wait for their electric vehicle to recharge, or of desperately hunting for a charging station when the battery starts to run low, can prevent them from switching to EVs. And then even when they have found a charging station, drivers still sometimes discover that it will not work for their particular vehicle, for various reasons. Therefore, to stimulate consumer adoption of EVs, it is important that there are sufficient and fast charging options available. It is also essential that the charging experience runs flawlessly. Ideally, this means that users should be able to simply plug their vehicle into any charging station, regardless of the type and make of their vehicle, the type and make of the charging station, and the charge point operator (CPO). This requires interoperability of all EV charging infrastructure.

  • How is the industry supporting conformity for EVSE?

    For the industry to achieve full compatibility and interoperability of EVSE, vehicles, charging stations, components and back-office systems must all be designed to conform with the same technical standards and communication protocols. Standardization is crucial to ensure this conformity. The CharIN industry consortium is working to establish the Combined Charging System (CCS) as the global standard to enable interoperable charging as an important component in the ecosystem. This is supported by many European, North American and Asian car makers, and DEKRA is one of the core members.

  • What is the difference between regular charging and fast charging stations?

    Regular charging stations are primarily installed in residential or urban environments, such as outside people’s homes or in public car parks. These are based on alternating current (AC) and tend to have fairly low voltages. They take several hours to charge a vehicle, but this is not usually a problem when people are at home, at work or out shopping, for example. But to remove range anxiety and enable drivers to recharge quickly during longer journeys, faster electric vehicle charging stations are increasingly being installed along major travel corridors such as motorways. These fast chargers are based on direct current (DC) and have higher voltages. This technology is already being taken a step further, leading to the emergence of high-power DC (HPDC) which can provide up to 350 kW of power for ultrafast EV charging. HPDC connectors are actively cooled with cooling liquid to facilitate this. CharIN is supporting the further development and adoption of DC and HPDC.

    What are the most important aspects to consider when testing EV charging stations?

    Electrical safety is of course critical to protect users of EV charging equipment. In the EU the IEC/EN 61851 series of standards is the main protocol used. Its general requirements apply to all EV charging stations. However, different parts of the standard apply depending on whether it is an AC or a DC charging station. The emerging HPDC technology means that users will be exposed to even higher voltages, which makes it increasingly important that the standards adequately address all the risks. There are still some gaps in the IEC/EN 61851. These can currently be filled by including additional standards such as IEC 61439 (low-voltage switchgear and controlgear assemblies) and IEC/EN 62368-1 (safety of communication technology equipment) in the testing and certification process of electric vehicle charging systems, for example.

    Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) testing ensures that the electronics within EVSE do not emit interference, and that they will continue to function in the presence of various electromagnetic phenomena such as power supply surges or radiated electric fields. DEKRA also applies additional environmental protection standards to be sure that the high-voltage equipment inside a charging station is protected from the elements such as rain, ice, dust and sand.

    Conformity testing ensures that the all elements of the EVSE – the vehicle, the charging station and the back office – can communicate with one another. This is essential so that the right amount of electricity is provided to the right vehicle, and the user is billed at the right price. The ISO/IEC 15118 standard governs electronic communications in EVSE. Another relevant test in this area is Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) testing, developed by the Open Charge Alliance. The OCPP protocol is used worldwide to correctly exchange information between the EV charging station and the charging station management system operated by the CPOs. The advancement of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) and smart charging applications is making communication protocols even more crucial, as the EV is increasingly becoming an active element in the grid.