With the rise of the electric vehicle comes the rise of the charging infrastructure and also that part of the equation does not come without trouble. There are many companies who have jumped on the promise of delivering the best or cheapest charging solution for your electric vehicle. With many manufacturers and various suppliers of the electricity come many solutions and systems on how the charging solution works. Interoperability is key to making sure that all these solutions can co-exist without the end user having to worry about if the charging station can provide the service.
Chargers for your EV in the Netherlands - Link
Plugs, plugs, plugs…
Where the initial problem of having the right plugs and connectors is mostly solved, for the EU and for now at least. Initially a lot of manufacturers sought to develop their own specific plug to charge the electric vehicle with. Luckily the amount of plug was reduced quite quickly with the Mennekes plug and a few others; traveling through Europe with an EV and a trunk full of plugs is far from convenient, even if it is still in the pioneering phase. After that came the problem of the various energy suppliers, or the system that is used to allow users access and have them pay. The system of one company was not compatible with another, so even when the electricity was free, with the wrong access card you could not get charged up.
Interoperability is key
Luckily for that here in the Netherlands the vast majority of charging stations share the same system and allow users from the competition to use the station. Similarly to how your mobile phone uses the network of another provider in your country if your own provider can not provide plenty of cell phone coverage. This system allows electric vehicle owners who normally charge up using the system of supplier A to charge up with the electrons from supplier B at a different system. Pretty sweet I’d say, especially if I hear so many other people from outside the Netherlands complain when they are faced with these interoperability issues.
How to get there?
I think the last hurdle for a charging infrastructure coverage would be to have a proper source of information on where all the chargers are located. Again, there are a few initiatives here that aim to provide EV drivers with this information. In some cases the information has overlap; the same station is in multiple systems and probably indicates it is a station that is used frequently. On the other hand, there are some significant gaps still, where some stations only appear in one system, but not in another. And the other way around of course.
Of there would be one source that would list every charge station in the Netherlands, showing its availability and/or the estimated duration of the charge that is happening now, I think it would provide the best boost in the charging industry here. At the moment most of the electric vehicle drivers can charge at almost every charging station, but finding them (and available) is still a challenge to these pioneers. I’ve seen some activity from the side of Google, having put some charging stations on Google Maps; they would be big enough to provide a global coverage for this information, though it is neither linked with the status of the stations, nor provides the full list of every station available.