How can Blockchain technology give added value to the electric mobility chain?
This was the main question during the OCPI Blockchain workshop in July, as part of the ECISS project, organised by GreenFlux and NKL Nederland.
Important sub-question to be answered: If there is added value, what will the impact be on the OCPI protocol used for data exchange and roaming between Charge Point Operators and eMobility Service Providers?
The well-organized event contained a mix of presentations and discussions – not about the technology but mainly about the usage and pros and cons of blockchain in electric charging world. After a short welcome from Hans de Boer (Founder GreenFlux), we started with the baseline: Blockchain for Dummies. This was accompanied by a presentation from Peter van Zuylen, explaining the concept of blockchain in an easy-to-understand manner. This was followed by presentations of eLaadNL, Vandebron, Quantoz & Share & Charge, who all do experiments and even offer solutions based on blockchain technology.
Many issues where discussed such as permission vs permission less blockchain, visibility, trust, dependency of organisations, privacy, location of blockchain servers, direct payment possibilities, auditability, security, digital contracts, etc.
The main benefits for using blockchain technology became a bit more clear –
Trust: you know the sender
Unchangeable data: you can’t change data that was sent
Independency from large companies that want to control everything if you do not use a private blockchain
However there are also some issues that are less beneficial –
Transparency: everyone in the blockchain can see the data
Control of servers: it is not always clear in open blockchain who controls the servers and in which part of the world they are located
Dependency of one blockchain system: not easy to change from one blockchain to an other, which makes you dependent on the system you started with
It is interesting to see that there are companies using blockchain in the electric mobility charging infrastructure chain. Even though it was raised by several participants, it is not totally clear what problem blockchain solves and if that cannot be done with current tools and systems in place. There is probably not a single answer to that.
At least for me it became clear that it is an interesting technology but it is far from a mature proven level. It can be used in the electric mobility charge infrastructure chain, although it is not the holy grail and it is still unclear what it solves. But so far the real impact on OCPI looks like very limited – it can be used without changing current OCPI versions. The workshop also gave me the feeling that it is good to start experiments and trials with it. I see it as an innovation that might create features and tools that we are not aware of yet or improve parts of the chain that we don’t see yet.
After an intensive but great day discussing blockchain, I look forward to the next steps, enabling more discussions with experts and initiatives of blockchain technology in the charge infrastructure chain.
Article by: Michel Bayings