The future of electric vehicle charging

Electric vehicle (EV) charging is witnessing a remarkable era of innovation, reshaping how we think about energy consumption, infrastructure, and sustainability, says Jess Shanahan.

As the EV market continues to expand, the need for more efficient, accessible, and advanced charging solutions becomes increasingly important.

Here are some of the innovations in EV charging that will change how we approach energy and transport in the coming years.

Vehicle-to-everything technology

Vehicle-to-Everything (V2X) technology will change the way EVs interact with the world around them. This approach not only facilitates charging but also allows EVs to feed energy back into buildings, other vehicles, or the grid. This gives businesses, local authorities, and homeowners more flexibility over how they use energy, essentially turning the vehicle (or fleet of vehicles) into a battery storage system.

This bidirectional flow of energy nods to a future where EVs help to improve grid stability. This holds a lot of promise for fleets, social housing developments, and local authorities as it enables organisations to save money on energy, discharge back to the grid, and support the use of renewable energy.

Introducing plug & charge

The ISO 15118 standard enables plug & charge, which will simplify the EV charging process. This technology enables EVs and charging stations to communicate directly, allowing for automatic authentication and billing without the need for additional apps or cards. This ease of use is crucial in breaking down barriers to EV adoption.

For local authorities planning a charger rollout, this technology could help improve the charging experiences for residents as well as council fleets. In simplifying the charging process, it’s easier for people to initiate a charging session but also allows the device to recognise different types of users and bill them appropriately.

Future-proof with OCPP 2.0.1

The Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) is a vital standard in the EV charging industry. The latest version, OCPP 2.0.1, addresses growing demands and infrastructure challenges by enhancing network scalability and security. This set of standards ensures maximum interoperability and, notably, supports features like Plug & Charge. Any organisation looking to future-proof their charging network should opt for solutions (both hardware and software) built to the latest OCPP 2.0.1 standards.

For local authorities looking at charging infrastructure, it’s important to consider compliance with these standards. “Perhaps frustratingly for buyers,” says Tomas Edwards, Commercial Lead at Switch-EV, “many providers ‘promise’ compliance and provision for some undefined point in the future, which can’t be relied upon. Organisations should look for providers that already have independent validation of OCPP 2.0.1 compliance. If they don’t, they’re running a lot of unnecessary risk that their residents and users won’t tolerate.”

Adopting these standards now will prevent re-work and unnecessary expenditure in the future while ensuring organisations have access to the latest user experience and security features.

Wireless charging

While wireless charging is still in its nascent stages, it poses an intriguing possibility — especially when you consider the work being done on V2X wireless charging. Imagine a world where EVs are charged seamlessly without physical connectors, this could make charging fleet vehicles easier than ever.

What’s particularly exciting about this is that wireless charging is almost as efficient as plug-in charging but is fully cable-free, making it suitable for residential streets, narrow city car parks, or fleet depots. Wireless charging is useful in situations where vehicles are stationary for short periods, such as taxi ranks.

Martin Beaumont, CEO at Electric Green, explains: “All wireless solutions will reduce operating expenses for fleets by reducing breakages — as there are no moving parts — and improve safety levels for users, as staff movement around the vehicles is minimal and there are no cable trip hazards

“Electric Green’s solution goes several steps further as it centralises the power supply and distributes it to multiple chargepads on one backbone cable. This eliminates obstructive charge point ‘furniture’, facilitates routine maintenance, and delivers reduced costs through economies of scale.”

Powerbank charging

For fleet operators, the current charging infrastructure still presents some challenges, especially for those travelling long distances in rural areas. The solution? Easily deployable powerbanks that allow the vehicle to charge wherever it needs to. This approach could significantly reduce downtime and operational challenges associated with traditional charging methods.

Philip Clarke, Founder of TUAL, which provides powerbank charging solutions, says: “Commercial vehicles need to be working, not waiting. The established charging paradigm — where you park, plug in, and then pause — simply doesn’t work for fleets. We need something which keeps their productivity up, they can’t stop in the middle of the day to take an hour out.

“TUAL allows a driver to collect a charger in about 90 seconds and drive to the place where they want to charge — perhaps overnight or while they’re at a job site. This is a new way of charging that recognises that enterprise fleets have different requirements that are built around productivity.”

These advancements promise a more integrated, efficient, and user-friendly future, making EVs the cornerstone of sustainable transport. For local authorities and fleet managers, embracing these technologies means not only keeping pace with change but also leading the charge towards a greener, more connected world.