What Is ISO 15118, and How Can It Boost EV Adoption Rates?
In 2014, ISO 15118, one of the most influential changes to the world of electric vehicles, was introduced. If you’re unfamiliar with it or what it means, its formal name might give you a clue: “Road Vehicles – Vehicle to Grid Communication Interface.”
In other words, the standard is the foundation for future frameworks that allow EVs and EV charging stations to communicate with one another, simplifying the process of keeping your vehicle powered on the go. But there’s more: it could even encourage more drivers to get behind the wheel of an EV, accelerating the adoption of cleaner transportation.
To understand what ISO 15118 means, and what it can do to put more EVs on the road, take a look at the information below.
ISO 15118 Explained
ISO 15118 is the result of a joint project between the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) to establish an international standard for EV charging. Work began on the project in 2010, and the “Plug and Charge” section, which has generated so much interest, was released in 2014.
Both organizations have continued to update the standard over the last decade. Although its initial adoption was slow, major EV manufacturers like Tesla and Rivian have since incorporated ISO 15118 into vehicle designs and the North American Charging System (NACS).
How It Works
ISO 15118 is what’s known as a “communication protocol,” a system that allows different computers to speak to and interact with each other. Ordinarily, two devices within such a system need to already have their unique information stored within a central virtual location to interact.
Since EV charging involves millions of different charging points, vehicles, and pieces of infrastructure, ISO 15118 bypasses the enormous amount of work that would otherwise be required through “contract certificates” linked to an EV driver’s vehicle and account information.
When the driver plugs into a charging point, it accesses the vehicle’s unique contract certificate to verify the driver’s identification and account information and connect to billing. That means you can access and use any compatible charging station without needing an app or RFID card to pay.
Once charging is complete, the contract certificate provider (usually a trusted third party contracted by a charging service or vehicle manufacturer) generates an invoice and issues it to the owner of the vehicle.
If all of that seems complex, here’s another way of putting it: an EV and a charging station essentially speak two different digital languages or dialects. ISO 15118 functions like an interpreter, ensuring both devices can interact and that any vehicle equipped with Plug and Charge capability can charge with any similarly-equipped charging point.
ISO 15118 and EV Adoption
ISO 15118 has generated a lot of excitement in the EV world because it has enormous potential to spur the adoption of EV technology at much higher rates than in recent years.
Think of it this way: with an internal combustion engine (ICE) car, all you need to do to refuel it is head to a gas station and slip the pump nozzle into the tank. If EVs are to become more convenient and appealing as a mode of transportation, they need to have this same level of interoperability as gas-powered vehicles.
The key to achieving that interoperability is Plug and Charge. Earlier generations of 21st-century EVs required a variety of charging systems and equipment. While the hardware aspects of EV charging (that is, the shape and functions of charging ports and charging plugs) are largely falling into place, the software still has some room to improve.
Furthermore, the utility of ISO 15118 can be enhanced with the Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP). OCPP is a communication protocol used to link EV charging stations with a central control system.
Combining the two enables more efficient and flexible smart charging. Here’s how it works:
An ISO 15118-compatible EV is connected to a charging point in an OCPP-compatible network.
The vehicle requests a specific amount of energy from the charge point.
The request is forwarded to the charging network’s backend system.
This activates smart charging functionality, and the backend system authorizes the vehicle to receive precisely as much energy as it needs, thus saving resources, power, and money for all involved.
Another useful feature supported by ISO 15118 is “bi-directional charging.” This means cars can feed unneeded electricity back into the grid, relieving pressure on overburdened and unstable power systems and reducing energy loss and waste.
Given the substantial improvements in user experience, energy efficiency, and interoperability, ISO 15118 is poised to make a reality, and you’ll probably start seeing it pop up at EV charging stations more in coming years. In fact, if the protocol makes it that much easier and more convenient for you to switch to an all-electric vehicle, it’ll make the transition easier and more appealing. Just look for the Plug and Charge logo at a charging station near you.
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